1491 Unemployment for learning-disabled adults and family carers – barriers and challenges to work: findings from a uk public consultation

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Disabled people (approximately 1 billion among 7.4 billion world population) and their Family-Carers suffer from massive labour market disadvantage. Global economic crisis and austerity has had serious implication on their health and well-being by increasing mortality, morbidity, poverty and poor access to health/social care. Over 50% of 1.5 million Learning-Disabled people in the UK lived in family-house depending on informal unpaid care from 0.84 million Family-Carers resulting in significant financial burden for their family (2011). Despite Government initiatives employment rate among Learning-Disabled adults has fallen (6.1% in 2009/10% to 5.8% in 2015/16). 33% of Family-Carers were also unemployed compounding their misery.


A public consultation within a local authority set out to review the current employment status and perception towards work among Learning-Disabled adults and their Family -Carers. Qualitative and quantitative data was gathered and analysed thematically and statistically respectively.


Among 227 participating Learning-Disabled adults, 98% (217/227) were in the working-age group (18–65 years) but only 8% (18/227) in paid employment. Among responding Family-Carers (77%; 59/77 in the working age), 55% were unemployed. Both the Learning-disabled adults (74%; 167/227) and Family-Carers (50%; 35/70) were unenthusiastic about their employment prospect. Negative societal attitude; bullying, harassment and crime; lack of access, resources, transport, training facility and targeted job opportunity were identified as primary barrier for work by the Learning-Disabled group. Caring responsibilities, increasingly scarce resources and Lack of social and management support were identified by the Family-Carers. The respondents called for a paradigm shift from employment support towards teaching/training for employers and employees to break these barriers.


Despite government initiatives, employment for Learning-disabled adults and their able Family-Carers remains an unfulfilled dream. More targeted employment, teaching/training and flexible-working acknowledging the fragile interdependent relationship between Learning-disabled adults and Family-Carers, may prevent a significant loss of manpower and productivity.

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