There are 930,000 more disabled people in work today than in 2013, according to new Department for Work and Pensions figures, an increase of an average of 500 more people per day.
The employment rate for people with disabilities increased by 7.4% over the period – from 44% to 51% – compared with 3.8% for people who are not disabled. Almost 82% of non-disabled people are in work.
Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd welcomed the rise and said: “Disabled people are now more likely to be in employment than workless, but we must and will go further to ensure everyone who wants to work can work.”
“It’s a huge pool of talent – 7.6 million working age people in the UK have a disability. The truth is that if you’re not recruiting disabled talent then your competitors probably are.
“Disabled people deserve the opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling career. Business and government must take steps together to ensure no one misses out.”
A spokesperson for the department said that from this month disabled people could receive nearly £60,000 a year through Access to Work to help pay for workplace adjustments. This was an increase of 40% in just two years.
The government was keen to take its share of the credit for the figures and hailed the impact of the Disability Confident scheme in creating more job opportunities for disabled people. It stated that more than 11,000 businesses across the country had signed up for the programme, which gives employers expert advice about how to recruit more disabled people.
However, only two weeks ago, the National Audit Office was highly critical of the government’s target of getting one million more disabled people into work by 2027, saying it was unlikely to be a useful measure.
The NAO warned: “Despite the Department’s decades of experience supporting disabled people it does not yet know as much as it could about what works in helping disabled people to get and keep jobs.
“It has also missed opportunities over the years to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of its programmes, leaving it with limited evidence to support its current efforts.”
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, added: “Given the government has been supporting disabled people to work for a long time, it is not beyond reason to expect the DWP to know what works by now and it is disappointing that it does not.
“It has yet to make a significant dent in the number of disabled people who are out of work, some of whom say they would like to work given the right support.”
A person is counted as disabled if they have a health condition lasting or expected to last a year or more that limits their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.