Parliamentary briefing: People with disabilities in employment

Year of Publication: 

This House of Commons Library briefing summarises the key statistics available on disabled people in employment in the UK.

Headline Figures

There were 3.5 million people of working age (16-64) with disabilities in employment between April and June 2017, an employment rate of 49.2%. The employment rate for people without disabilities was 80.6%.

The employment rate for people with disabilities was 1.3 percentage points higher in April-June 2017 than in the same period in 2016. In this period the number of people with disabilities in employment has risen by 104,000.

346,000 people with disabilities of working age were unemployed. People with disabilities have an unemployment rate of 9.0%. The unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 3.8%.

3.8 million people with disabilities of working age were economically inactive. The economic inactivity rate for those with disabilities is 45.9%. The economic inactivity rate for people without disabilities was 16.2%.

Employment Gaps

What is commonly referred to as the ‘disability employment gap’ is the difference in the employment rate of people with disabilities and people without disabilities. People with disabilities had an employment rate 31.3 percentage points lower than people without disabilities between April and July 2017.

The employment rate for men with disabilities is 50.0%, for women with disabilities the rate is 48.6%.

Government Policy

The government has reported that finding work for an additional 1% of eligible Employment and Support Allowance claimants in 2018/19 would save £240 million, and provide a boost to the economy of £260 million.

The Conservative Party 2017 manifesto pledged to get “1 million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years”.

To achieve this goal there would have to be 4.5 million people in employment with disabilities by 2027, a growth of 29% on current levels.

‘Improving Lives’

In November 2017, the Government set out its strategy on how it intends to get a million more disabled people into employment in the Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability policy paper.