Disability employment rates show surprisingly large increase

The Government has published updated statistics on the employment status of disabled people. They show surprising increases to employment rates for people with learning difficulties, autism and mental health conditions. The figures below are taken from Table 8a of the data tables at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/the-employment-of-disabled-people-2021

The statistics in the report are based on 3 key data sources:

  • Labour Force Survey
  • Annual Population Survey
  • Family Resources Survey

This updated release contains annual data to March 2021 and quarterly data to June 2021. It therefore covers the first 12 to 15 months of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Users should be aware of the potential effect of the pandemic and should interpret results, particularly across different time periods, with care.

The employment rate for people with specific or severe learning difficulties has risen dramatically to 25.6%. The category is not that helpful as it includes people with dyslexia and dyscalcula (specific learnign difficulties) as well as people with a learning disability (severe learning difficulties). The statistic would be far more useful if it separated out the two subset categories. Nevertheless, it's an unexpectedly large increase compared to rates which have hovered around 17% to 21% since 2013-14.

This indicator should not be confused with the ASCOF indicator 1E which shows the employment rates of people with learning disabilities known to local authority social care. The latest published ASCOF employment rate for 2021-22 stands at 5.1%

The autism employment indicator has also shown a large increase and now stands at 26.5%. This indicator was introduced in 2019-20 when it stood at 22.1%.

The employment rates for people with a mental health condition have risen from 30.7% in 2013-14 to 49.6% in 2020-21. The ASCOF indicator 1F employment rate for people using secondary mental health services currently stands at 9%.

These large increases in employment rates are very welcome but some are based on relatively small sample sizes so we're unsure how reliable they are.