U.K. Disabled Twice Less Likely to Find Work After Year Unemployed

Disabled protestors
Disabled protestors at Conservative party conference in Manchester, England, October 5, 2015. The British government has more work to do in reducing disabled unemployment, a report said Tuesday. LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

If a disabled person in the U.K. is out of work for a year, their odds of getting back into employment are slashed at twice the rate of a non-disabled person, according to research published Tuesday.

Some 16 percent of disabled people who have held a job within the past year re-enter work each quarter, according to Retention Deficit , a report from the Resolution Foundation think-tank. This falls to just 2.4 percent for those who left a job more than a year ago—the chance of re-entering after a year out is 6.5 times lower than in the first year of unemployment.

The report calls this a "time out" penalty, and notes that it is more than double that for non-disabled people, who are only three times less likely to re-enter employment after a year out of work than in the first year after exiting.

The disability employment rate in the U.K. is 46 per cent, 34 percentage points below the employment rate for non-disabled people. Halving this gap by 2020 in line with government targets, the report said, would require a 1.5 million increase in the number of disabled people in work.

The report also found that government policy is "insufficiently focused on supporting people in work," adding that "supporting people to remain in work can play at least as much of a role in overall outcomes" as getting people out of unemployment.

"Helping people with health problems or a disability to enter and remain in work is a major concern in an ageing society, and the key challenge to overcome if we are to achieve the chancellor's goal of full employment," Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said.