Britain’s economy would receive a £45 billion boost if one million more disabled people were supported to work (the equivalent of halving the disability employment gap).A new report by the disability charity Scope
reveals the economic impact of one million more disabled people in work by 2030.
Based on economic modelling by Landman Economics*, the report, Enabling Work: Disabled people, employment and the UK economy, finds that:
A 10 percentage point increase in the disability employment rate – the equivalent to supporting 1.1m more disabled people into work – would increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £45 billion by 2030.
This would represent 1.7 per cent of total GDP in 2030
The Exchequer would gain £12 billion through higher tax receipts and lower social security payments
Relative poverty among disabled people would fall from 30 per cent to 25 per cent
More than six million disabled people are already in work. However, the gap between the employment rate of disabled people and the rest of the population is around 30 per cent and has remained largely static for the last decade*.
Scope is calling on all political parties to commit to halving the disability employment gap.
The charity’s report sets out the changes needed within individual workplaces, the welfare system and the wider labour market to support more disabled people to work and achieve their career goals.
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of Scope, says:
“Disabled people are pushing hard to get into work and achieve their career goals.
But in 2015, too many disabled people remain locked out of the workplace.
This is a waste of the talents of disabled people, who are a vital and often untapped resource for the UK labour market.
This research demonstrates the huge benefits to the UK’s economy of relatively small increases in the disability employment rate.
Breaking down the barriers disabled people face when gaining employment and staying in work is vital to the country’s sustainable economic growth.”
Many disabled people face huge barriers in the workplace
Scope’s report sets out four areas that need to be addressed to support more disabled people to find and thrive in work:
Improving employer attitudes to disability
Improving job retention of disabled people
Providing personalised and flexible employment support for disabled people to find work
Making sure disabled people are part of regional growth plans
Negative attitudes of employers remain a significant barrier to work for many disabled people.
Research by Scope shows that a staggering 74 per cent of disabled adults feel they have lost out on a job opportunity because of their impairment or health condition.
The overwhelming message from disabled people is that having flexibility over their working time and practices is crucial – but it is not always available. Modified hours, such as flexible or part-time working, is an important factor to 40 per cent of disabled jobseekers.
Emma Satyamurti, a partner at the law firm Leigh Day, says being disabled gives her a unique insight that helps in her work as an employment lawyer.
“Very often a person’s disability has very little impact on their ability to do their job. I might not have been able to reach the key fob to get into the building, but that doesn’t affect my ability as a solicitor.”
"Often it takes very little to make the adjustments needed for people to get on and succeed at work.”
What the government needs to do
There are important steps government can take to increase the rate of employment of disabled people:
Expanding and protecting Access to Work, a vital scheme that funds specialist equipment, workplace adaptations and transport.
Ensuring all disabled jobseekers have access to specialist advice and support.
Piloting personal budgets for employment support.
Using devolution and localism initiatives to improve the employment rate of disabled people.
Scope is also calling on the next government to bring in legislation that enables disabled people to take part-time leave when they are adjusting to changes or fluctuations in their condition.
Notes to the editor:
*Landman Economics’ model uses the widest definition of disability available in the dataset. This captures most, but not all, people who met the definition of disability in the Disability Discrimination Act. The Family Resources Survey indicates that the employment rate of this group is 57.4 per cent.
The Labour Force Survey is a more commonly used source to determine the total proportion of disabled people in employment. It indicates the disability employment rate is 47.4 per cent. But it is not possible to carry out the economic modelling used in Landman’s report from that dataset without compromising accuracy.
The Labour Force Survey uses a different definition of disability – people who are considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010 and/or report a work-limiting disability. As a result it produces a different employment rate than the Family Resources Survey. The differing employment rates in these two datasets do not affect the conclusions drawn about the economic benefits to the Exchequer of halving the employment gap.
Scope’s aspiration that the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people is halved is set out in its A Million Futures report. The figures in that report are based on analysis of the Labour Force Survey.
*Source: The Office for National Statistics Labour Market Statistics, March 2015
The disability employment rate has not been affected by a return to economic growth in the same way as the non-disabled rate is. Scope’s analysis of the latest ONS employment stats suggests that the difference in the employment rate increase between disabled and non-disabled people, which is not large but statistically significant, shows a repetition of what has happened in previous economic recoveries – the non-disabled employment rate benefits more from the improving health of the economy and recovers faster than that of disabled people’s.
For more information and interviews contact Jenna Pudelek in the Scope press office on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 619 7155.