Disabled jobseekers ‘twice as likely’ to be unemployed

New Peabody report also finds people with disabilities are paid an average of 13% less per hour when employed.


Jobseekers with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed, while those in work are often under-employed, under-paid, and less likely to progress at work than those without a disability, new research and analysis has found.

In the third of its kind, the report, produced by Peabody and independent think-tank the Social Market Foundation, sets to track the experience of those on low incomes across the UK.

According to the analysis, jobseekers with a disability are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those without – with 9% of disabled jobseekers in the capital out of work and struggling to find a job compared with 3.7% of people without a disability.

In an analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey, the report also found that, once in work, people with disabilities are paid less and work fewer hours than they would like.

Across the UK, employed people with disabilities are paid an average of 13% less per hour than those without a disability, jumping to 18% less per hour in London.

This pay gap disadvantage is said to have worsened in recent years – with an accompanying survey of Peabody tenants revealing 89% of people with a disability said they haven’t been promoted in the last five years.

Across the UK in 2018, median gross weekly pay among those with a disability was 21% lower than those without a disability.

In London, this pay gap was slightly larger at 23%, and among social housing tenants in London the pay gap was also 23%.

The widening pay gap can be attributed to factors such as a lack of accessibility to job openings, low-paying jobs, and insecure minimum and zero-hour contracts, according to the report.

More broadly, index figures show real incomes for the lowest earners in London have decreased by over 1% in the last year, despite a historically high level of economically active social housing tenants in paid work.

One case highlighted is Blessing Odukoya’s. Living in hackney with her parents, 23-year-old Blessing has Cerebral Palsy and has said she has applied for more than 20 jobs this year.

She said: “Getting a job is very strenuous, and when you add the complications that come with a disability, job hunting can feel almost impossible even before you started.

“I’ve had jobs taken away from me due to lack of access, which had a great impact on my mental health and caused great damage to my self-esteem.”

She added that “more needs to be done” so not only buildings are accessible, but the job description is well thought out so the individual can feel as fulfilled in their role as anyone else.

Commenting on the reports, Stephen Burns, executive director of care and communities at Peabody, said: “Our Index figures continue to show an enduring problem of declining real incomes and struggle for people on lower wages.

“These problems are particularly pronounced for people with disabilities who are able to work but find their opportunities limited. People are being pushed into hardship, preventing them from making the most of their lives.

“Government and businesses need to focus long-term on raising the incomes of lower earners generally, but we also need specific actions to address the significant challenges faced by people with disabilities in the labour market.

“There are serious questions around the extent to which those with disabilities are able to access good-quality jobs nationally, or benefit from the wide range of well-paid, high-quality job opportunities in the capital.”

Scott Corfe, research director at the Social Market Foundation, added: “Our analysis shows that the disability pay gap is substantial across the UK, and is particularly large in London.

“It is crucial that policymakers ensure that those with disabilities are able to benefit from the wide range of good job opportunities across the capital.”

“Worryingly, the disability pay gap has widened in recent years, highlighting the need for politicians to take the matter seriously.

“Much as the gender pay gap has risen up the agenda, it is time to increase awareness of the challenges those with disabilities face – both when looking for work and while in employment,” he concluded.

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