Today the Office for National Statistics announced the lowest UK unemployment rate for nearly 10 years, however this ignores the on-going failure to address the fact that just 6% of people with a learning disability are in paid work.
There has instead been a 3 year decrease from 7.1% in 2012 to 6.0% in 2015 of people with a learning disability in employment known to English councils.
With the Government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap there should be a greater focus on how to remove the barriers to employment than ever before. However people with a learning disability tell us that proposed cuts to the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance could make it harder for them to find work and contradict the Government’s noble aim of getting more disabled people into work.
Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at Mencap said:
“Although we are pleased that employment figures are improving we still need to see urgent action as to how the government will meet its commitment of halving the disability employment gap. There are just 6% of people with a learning disability who are in paid work. Barriers such as the attitudes of employers to government initiatives that fail to understand the support people with a learning disability need to gain jobs are preventing many people who are capable of work from gaining employment.
“If we are ever going to ensure people with a learning disability experience the independence, pride and freedom that comes with having a job, we need employers, the Government and representative organisations to come together and acknowledge the valuable contribution those with a learning disability can make to our economy.”
Ciara Lawrence who has a learning disability and struggled to find employment said:
“I’m one of just 7 per cent of people with a learning disability to have a job. I had lots of interviews before I got my job with Mencap. All I wanted to do was to earn my own money and be independent like anyone else.
“There are too many barriers that stop people with a learning disability getting a job, such as staff at Job Centre’s not understanding about learning disability and employers not realising what someone with a learning disability can do. The Government needs to understand the challenges people with a learning face and help break down these barriers and not add to them by making it harder to get the support they rely on from benefits.”
Barriers to employment for people with a learning disability
- Lack of in-work support
- Attitudes of employers that people with a learning disability can only do menial tasks.
- Government disability employment programmes do not meet the needs of people with a learning disability.
- Welfare system that strips benefits if you earn even a small amount, trapping pwld in poverty.
Benefits of employing people with a learning disability
- Tend to stay in roles for longer periods of time.
- 77 per cent of members of the public think more highly of organisations that employ people with a disability.
- Commercial benefit of widening your customer base to the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk