Disability employment gap persists despite new statistics

(News first reported by Disability News Service on 19th May and Disability Rights UK‘s E-Newsletter 19th May.)

The government has announced that over one million more Disabled people are in employment compared to five years ago.

The minister for Disabled people, Chloe Smith, had described the figure as an “important milestone” which showed the government’s “commitment to supporting Disabled people to lead independent lives and reach their full potential”.

She said this delivered on a Conservative manifesto commitment to see one million more disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027.

The Office for National Statistics figures, released on Tuesday 17 May, do show there were about 4.8 million Disabled people in employment in the UK in the first quarter of 2022, compared with about 3.5 million in the first quarter of 2017.

But analysis of the new figures by Professor Vicki Wass, from Cardiff Business School, a member of the Disability@Work group of researchers, has shown that the disadvantage faced by Disabled people in the jobs market has not reduced since 2017.

Kim Hoque from Disability@Work said: “While Ministers may consider reaching their goal of getting an additional one million Disabled people into work as worthy of celebration, this needs to be kept in perspective, given the DWP’s own analysis shows that while the number of Disabled people in work has increased, so has the number of non-disabled people. As such, Disabled people’s employment prospects, in relative terms, have not improved. Reflecting this, the disability employment gap, which indicates the difference in the percentage of Disabled and non-disabled working of age people who are in work, is no smaller now than it was in mid-2019.”

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