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Bucks below average for people with learning disabilities in work

One woman shares her story about employment with a learning disability

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 5:43am 25th February 2020. 4-minute read.

Bucks below average for people with learning disabilities in work

Gap between people with learning disabilities and those without in work in Bucks high than national average.

People with learning disabilities are just 8% as likely to be in paid employment as the wider population in Buckinghamshire, new figures reveal.

And while UK employment is at its highest ever level, the charity Mencap says employment rates for people with learning disabilities continue to be hampered as they “face many barriers”.

The latest Public Health England data compares the percentage of working age people with learning disabilities who are in paid employment with that for the population as a whole.

In Buckinghamshire, 80.0% of the working age population was in employment in 2018-19, while the figure stood at just 6.3% for adults with a learning disability – a gap of 73.7 percentage points.

Charlotte has Mosaic Down syndrome and was helped by Mencap into her job at Tesco, where she has been for over 10 years:

"When I first started it was a different way of working and they didn't understand me. Now they understand me its brilliant because they understand what I need, like my breaks because I get tired quite easily.

"So many people that I know that have got a learning disability at my age haven't got a job and sit at home doing nothing. So many people don't have a job because employers don't understand.

"For me, its about understanding the person, and making them adjustments. If they don't work make other adjustments."

Charlotte is now running her second marathon to thank Mencap and encourage others to use their employment services

The data covers people aged 18 to 64 with learning disabilities who were known to the council during the period.

The local gap was wider than the figure of 69.7 percentage points across the country as a whole, and was also bigger than the figure for the South East, where it was 72.0.

Mark Capper, head of development at Mencap, called the national figures “really disappointing”, adding that less than 6% of people with a learning disability known to their council are doing paid work.

He said:

“Despite the general population’s employment rate rising over the years, the employment rate for people with a learning disability has remained stubbornly low.

“People with a learning disability can work and want to work, and with the right support they can make really fantastic employees.

“But they face many barriers, often falling at the first hurdle as a result of inaccessible application forms.”

Small and reasonable adjustments in the workplace could help them become committed members of the workforce.

The difference in the employment rates in Buckinghamshire in 2018-19 was less than in 2017-18 (74.0 percentage points), but wider than in 2011-12 (65.9), the earliest year with comparable data.

Across England as a whole, the 69.7 percentage-point gap was the widest on record.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said:

“There are 4.4 million disabled people in employment in the UK, the highest since records began, but we know there is more to do.

"Levelling up the playing field for disabled people is a priority for this Government, and that's why later this year we'll launch a national strategy to set out how we can better support them so they have equal access to all spheres of life."

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