People with a learning disability are far less likely to have a job than the general population.

  • 6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (NHS Digital 2018)
  • 17% of all adults with a learning disability in England are in paid work (Emerson and Hatton 2008)
  • 52% of people aged 16 to 64 with any type of disability in Great Britain are in paid work (ONS 2019a)
  • 76% of people aged 16 to 64 in the general population in England are in paid work (ONS 2019b).

England Employment Infographic

6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (NHS Digital 2018)

4.2% of adults with a learning disability were in employment in Scotland in 2018 (SCLD 2018)

The Welsh government does not publish data on how many people with a learning disability in Wales are in paid work. However, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) provides data on the economic activity of people in Wales aged 16-64 who have a disability according to the Equality Act 2010 definition of disabilityThe LFS found that 47.3% of adults with a disability in Wales were employed in 2018, compared to 80.6% of people who were not disabled (StatsWales 2019).

The Northern Irish government does not publish data on how many people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland are in paid work. However, the LFS provides data on the economic activity of people in Northern Ireland aged 16-64 who describe themselves as having a long-term disability (NISRA 2018).The LFS found that 34.9% of people with a disability in Northern Ireland were employed in 2018, compared to 80.1% of people who were not disabled (NISRA 2018)

The proportion of adults with a learning disability in paid employment varies by region. 

London and Eastern regions have the highest proportion of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in paid employment, at 7.5% in both, closely followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, at 7.4% (NHS Digital 2018).

In England, a higher proportion of men with a learning disability known to their local authority (6.6%) are in paid employment than women with a learning disability known to their local authority (5.2%) (NHS Digital 2018).

There is very little current data on the proportion of all adults with a learning disability who have paid jobs in England, but past studies have suggested that about 17% of all working age people with a learning disability have a paid job (Emerson & Hatton 2008)

In 2008, Emerson and Hatton estimated that:

17% of all working age people with a learning disability had a paid job.

28% of working age people with a mild or moderate learning disability had a job

10% of working age people with a severe learning disability had a job

0% of working age people with profound and multiple learning disabilities had a job

 

Research references

Here you'll find full referencing for the Mencap research and statistics pages.

Research references

You might also like

Employment - what we think

People with a learning disability have a right to work 
Read more

Resources for employers

Best practice guides if you are looking to employ more people with a learning disability in your organisation
Read more

Learning Disability Work Week

Learning Disability Work Week celebrates what great employees people with a learning disability can make!
Read more