Thursday, 2 November 2017

Employment statistics - quick update

A whole new raft of social care statistics relating to 2016/17 came out last week from NHS Digital. This includes statistics on the number of working age adults with learning disabilities getting long-term social care support who are in paid/self employment, according to councils. The statistics are available here although they’re a bit scattered this time around.

The blogpost is a very quick update on the overall paid/self employment figures over time, as shown in the graph. Up to 2013/14, the information was collected for adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 who were known to councils (so not necessarily getting regular social care support). From 2014/15, the information was only collected for adults with learning disabilities aged 18-64 who were identified as having learning disability as their primary reason for support and who were getting long-term social care support. This means we can’t assume continuity in the information collected over the whole time frame.

Even with this caveat, the statistics on employment show that things are getting (even) worse. The grey bars in the graph show that by 2016/17, only 5.7% of this population of working age adults with learning disabilities were reported by councils to be in any form of paid/self employment, no matter how part-time. This has dropped even from 2014/15, when the employment rate was 6.0%.
The gender gap in employment rates has also persisted; the purple line shows that in 2016/17 6.2% of working age men with learning disabilities were in paid/self employment, compared to 5.0% of women (the blue line).

One last quick thing I want to mention is the extreme variation in reported employment rates between councils. I don’t know whether this reflects radically different practices in supporting people with learning disabilities into employment and helping people to maintain employment, different employment prospects, different reporting practices across councils, or some combination of these. Why can Bexley report an employment rate of 20.6% when Lambeth reports an employment rate of 0.6%? Or Hartlepool report an employment rate of 15.2% when South Tyneside reports an employment rate of 1.2%? One thing that gives me pause about the validity of these statistics is that in 2015/16 councils reported that the employment status of over a third (37.7%) of working age adults with learning disabilities getting long-term social care support was ‘unknown’. If these people’s employment status was known, what would reported employment rates be?

If this is really a policy priority, it would be good to see some concrete evidence of it.

[Update: in the original version of this post, I cited the overall rate of employment as 5.2% when it is 5.7% - I have corrected this. 5.2% is the median employment rate looking across local authorities].



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