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Employment: Disability and Ethnic Groups

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL3459, tabled on 26 October 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any long-term, disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the employment of (1) disabled people, and (2) young Black people; and what steps they are taking to address those effects.

Answered on

9 November 2021

Since 2013 (the earliest comparable year using the current definition of disability) up to the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the general trend in disability employment had been positive. There had been strong growth in the number and rate of disabled people in employment and a narrowing of the gap, between the rate of disabled and non-disabled people in employment.

While quarterly statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the pandemic initially reversed these trends, there are now signs of the trends improving, with the disability employment rate returning to its pre-pandemic level in Q2 2021. The disability employment gap has also started to narrow again during Q1 and Q2 of 2021. This suggests that, in the long term, disability employment rates have not been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

We continue to monitor the data and annual statistics, published by the Department on 4 November 2021, provided a more detailed view of disabled people in the labour market. These included breakdowns by a number of individual and work-related characteristics and covered the first 12 months of the pandemic. The number of disabled people in employment continued to increase (year-on-year) throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but at a slower rate than seen in previous years. The number of disabled people in employment is now above pre-pandemic levels.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have provided specialist employment support remotely and made programmes easier to access. A range of DWP initiatives are supporting disabled people to start and stay in work. These include the Work and Health Programme, the Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, Access to Work, Disability Confident and support in partnership with the health system, including Employment Advice in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services.

Data from the Annual Population Survey shows the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on young Black people in relation to employment. Before the Covid-19 pandemic (July 2018 - June 2019) the employment rate for 16-24 year-old black people was 36.3%. This fell during the pandemic to 27.4% between July 2020 - June 2021.This is the latest available published data and therefore we cannot yet see how the employment rate of young black people has changed as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

Throughout these unprecedented times, the Government has provided crucial support to record numbers of claimants. . This includes the Youth Offer, which has been developed to ensure that 18-24 year olds claiming Universal Credit have the skills they need to look for, find and keep employment. We also have a national programme of mentoring circles, involving employers offering specialised support to young jobseekers from ethnic minority backgrounds, including young black people.