Key points

  • Among those of working age, 40% of those with a work-limiting disability are working, a further 25% lack, but want, paid work and the final 35% do not want paid work.  All of these proportions are similar to their equivalents a decade ago.
  • The proportion of people who both have a work-limiting disability and lack, but want, paid work is noticeably higher in the North East than elsewhere.
  • The rest of the statistics below, which compare people with and without a work-limiting disability, all relate to those aged 25 to retirement.
  • Lone parents and people with disabilities are two of the groups which have been the subject of policy interventions – from the New Deal to tax credits and changes to the benefits system – to increase their labour market participation.  But the trends in their work rates over time has been very different: whilst the proportion of lone parents who are in paid work has increased a lot over the last decade, the proportion of disabled people who are in paid work has remained broadly unchanged.
  • Work rates for those who are neither disabled nor a lone parent are around 80% for women and 90% for men.  By contrast, work rates for disabled, non-lone parents are around 40% for both men and women.  Not only, therefore, does disability massively reduce the work rate but it also does so in a way to remove the gender gap apparent among non-disabled, non-lone parents.
  • Disability also dramatically reduces the work rate among female lone parents: 65% among those who are non-disabled compared with just 30% for those who are disabled.  So while lone parenthood reduces the female employment rate by 15 percentage points (from 80% to 65%), disability reduces employment for both female lone parents and female non-lone parents by around 40 percentage points (from 65% to 30% and 80% to 40% respectively).
  • Among those who are aged 25 to retirement and are not working, almost half are disabled.
  • At every level of qualification, the proportion of people aged 25 to 49 with a work-limiting disability who lack, but want, paid work is much greater than for those without a disability.  Indeed, at 15%, the proportion of people with a work-limiting disability with degrees or equivalent who lack, but want, paid work is almost as high as the proportion for people without a work-limiting disability with no qualifications.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

The largest group of economically inactive people who lack, but want, paid work are the long-term sick and disabled.

Definitions and data sources

All bar the first and last graphs in this indicator relate to adults aged 25 to retirement rather than all working-age adults.  This is because the high prevalence of unemployment among younger adults combined with the low prevalence of disability in that age group arguably distorts, and certainly changes, the comparison between disabled and non-disabled people which is the subject of these graphs.  The first and last graphs are for all those aged 16 to retirement as they do not compare disabled and non-disabled people.

The first graph shows the proportion of people aged 25 to retirement 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 proportion of people aged 25 to retirement who are in paid work, with the data shown separately for four groups of people, namely disabled lone parents, non-disabled lone parents, disabled people who are not lone parents, and people who are neither disabled nor lone parents.

The third for six graphs provide further breakdowns of this data.  In each case, to improve their statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

The third graph shows the proportion of people aged 25 to retirement in each work status, with the data shown separately for each combination of gender, disability (disabled or not) and lone parenthood (lone parent or not).  Note that male lone parents are not shown as the sample sizes are not sufficient to derive reliable estimates.

The fourth graph shows the distribution of those aged 25 to retirement who are not working according to whether or not they are disabled and whether or not they are lone parents.

The fifth graph shows how the proportion of aged 25 to 49 who lack, but want, paid work varies by level of disability and level of highest qualification.

The sixth graph shows, the proportions of the total population aged 25 to retirement in each region who are both work-limiting disabled and lack, but want, paid work.

The data source for all the graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and relates to the United Kingdom.  In the first, fifth and sixth graphs, the figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year.  In the second, third and fourth graphs, 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 a large, well-established, quarterly government survey, designed to be representative of the population as a whole.

External links

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Maximise employment opportunity for all.

Lead department

Department for Work and Pensions.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Overall employment rate taking account of the economic cycle.

Narrow the gap between the employment rates of the following disadvantaged groups and the overall rate: disabled people; lone parents; ethnic minorities; people aged 50 and over; those with no qualifications; and those living in the most deprived Local Authority wards.

Number of people on working age out-of-work benefits.

Amount of time people spend on out-of-work benefits.

Overall aim:  Address the disadvantage that individuals experience because of their gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Lead department

Government Equalities Office.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Gender gap in hourly pay.

Level of choice, control and flexibility to enable independent living.

Participation in public life by women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and young people.

Discrimination in employment.

Fairness of treatment by services.

Previous 2004 targets

As part of the wider objective of full employment in every region, over the three years to Spring 2008, and taking account of the economic cycle, demonstrate progress on increasing the employment rate.

As part of the wider objective of full employment in every region, over the three years to Spring 2008, and taking account of the economic cycle:

  • increase the employment rates of disadvantaged groups (lone parents, ethnic minorities, people aged 50 and over, those with the lowest qualifications, and those living in local authority wards with the poorest initial labour market position); and
  • significantly reduce the difference between the employment rates of the disadvantaged groups and the overall rate.

As a contribution to reducing the proportion of children living in households where no-one is working by 2008:

  • increase the stock of Ofsted-registered childcare by 10%;
  • increase the take-up of formal childcare by lower income working families by 50%; and
  • introduce by April 2005, a successful light-touch childcare approval scheme.

By 2008, working with all departments, bring about measurable improvements in gender equality across a range of indicators, as part of the Government’s objectives on equality and social inclusion.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year With a work-limiting disability
Working Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work 'Economically inactive' who do not want work
199838% 6% 19% 37%
199939% 6% 19% 37%
200039% 5% 19% 37%
200139% 5% 18% 38%
200240% 5% 18% 37%
200340% 4% 17% 38%
200440% 4% 16% 40%
200540% 5% 16% 39%
200641% 5% 16% 38%
200740% 5% 16% 39%
200840% 6% 17% 37%
200940% 7% 17% 37%
201041% 7% 17% 36%

Graph 2

Year Disabled, lone parents Disabled, not lone parents Lone parents, not disabled Neither lone parents nor disabled
1998 75% 63% 45% 15%
1999 74% 61% 43% 14%
2000 75% 60% 39% 14%
2001 73% 61% 39% 13%
2002 72% 60% 38% 14%
2003 73% 59% 37% 13%
2004 73% 58% 34% 13%
2005 71% 59% 33% 13%
200673% 58% 32% 13%
200771% 59% 33% 13%
200868% 58% 33% 13%
200970% 59% 32% 14%
201068% 57% 32% 15%

Graph 3

GenderLone parent?Disabled?Working Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work 'Economically inactive' who do not want work
FemaleLone parentDisabled32% 8% 23% 37%
Not disabled67% 8% 10% 15%
Not lone parentDisabled42% 4% 15% 40%
Not disabled82% 3% 3% 12%
MaleLone parentDisabled Sample sizes to small to estimate reliably
Not disabledSample sizes to small to estimate reliably
Not lone parentDisabled42% 6% 17% 34%
Not disabled89% 5% 2% 5%

Graph 4

Disabled, lone parents 3%
Disabled, not lone parents 39%
Lone parents, not disabled 7%
Neither lone parents nor disabled 51%

Graph 5

With a work-limiting disability With no work-limiting disability
Higher education 15% 4%
A level or equivalent 23% 6%
GCSEs A*-C 27% 9%
GCSEs below grade C 34% 14%
No qualifications 27% 17%

Graph 6

Region Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work
East 0.9% 2.1%
East Midlands 0.9% 2.4%
London 0.9% 2.0%
North East 1.2% 3.3%
North West 1.0% 3.0%
Northern Ireland 0.8% 1.9%
Scotland 0.9% 2.8%
South East 0.7% 2.1%
South West 0.8% 2.2%
Wales 1.0% 2.8%
West Midlands 1.0% 3.0%
Yorkshire and The Humber 1.0% 2.4%