Work and disability

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Among those of working age, 30% of those with a work-limiting disability are working.  A further 15% lack, but want, paid work but 55% do not want paid work.
  • The proportion of people who are both work-limiting disabled and lack, but want, paid work is lower in Northern Ireland than in any of the regions of Great Britain.
  • Among those who are aged 25 to retirement and are not working, around half are disabled.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of working-age people who are classified as work-limited disabled in each work status, namely working, unemployed, economically inactive but wanting paid work, and economically inactive and not wanting paid work.

The second graph shows the proportions of the total population of working-age in each region of the United Kingdom who are both work-limiting disabled and lack, but want, paid work.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for latest three years.

The third graph shows a breakdown of those aged 25 to retirement who are not working by whether or not they are disabled and whether or not they are lone parents.  The lower age limit of 25 has been chosen to avoid the distorting influence of the large numbers of people in education at younger ages.

The data source for all graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  In the first two graphs, the figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year.  In the third graph, the data for each year is the average for the 2nd and 4th quarters (data on household type not being available for the other two quarters).

‘Work-limiting disability’ is a LFS classification and comprises those people who stated that they have had health problems for more than a year and that these problems affect either the kind or amount of work that they can do.  LFS also records whether or not someone is disabled in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and so this definition of disability could have been used in the graphs rather than that of work-limiting disability.  The reason that it was not is that those who are disabled according to the Disability Discrimination Act but not according to the work-limiting definition have work rates which are similar to those who are not disabled under either definition.  Note that there is a high overlap between the two groups and that both are of similar size.

‘Unemployment’ is the ILO definition, which is used for the official unemployment numbers.  It comprises all those with no paid work in the survey week who were available to start work in the next fortnight and who either looked for work in the last month or were waiting to start a job already obtained.

The ‘economically inactive who want paid work’ includes people not available to start work for some time and those not actively seeking work.  The data is based on a question in LFS asking the economically inactive whether they would like paid work or not.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The LFS is large, a well-established, quarterly government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole.