“We are seeing many more people — over 900,000 more disabled people — in work as a result of what this government have done”
That was the claim from Theresa May at what’s expected to be her penultimate Prime Minister’s Questions.
We assume she’s referring to the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, which shows the number of disabled people in employment rose by 930,000 in the five years to 2018.
But she failed to mention the findings of a March 2019 report on disabled people in work by the National Audit Office (NAO), which monitors government spending.
The watchdog says even the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “acknowledges that the increase [in the number of disabled people in work] cannot be attributed to a particular cause, including its policies or programmes” and that it has “limited evidence of what works”.
In other words, the DWP accepts that the rise has not come about as a result of the government’s actions — despite Mrs May’s claim today.
So what’s the real cause? The NAO says “The evidence indicates that [the rise in the number of disabled people in work] is likely to be due to more people already in work reporting a disability rather than more disabled people who were out of work, moving into work.”
The report also makes clear that “the recent increases in the number of disabled people in work have not been matched by a reduction in the number of disabled people who are out of work”. The watchdog finds that this second figure has “remained broadly the same at around 3.7 million” in the past five years.
We looked in more detail at how the UK’s disability benefits system compares to other countries’ in June — read the full FactCheck analysis here.
Theresa May says 900,000 more disabled people are in work “as a result of what this government have done”. It’s true that in 2018, there were 930,000 more disabled people in jobs than in 2013.
But she didn’t mention that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted that it can’t attribute this rise to government policies.
The government spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, says the increase is probably caused by more people already in work reporting themselves as disabled — rather than out-of-work disabled people moving into jobs.
She also forgot to add that the number of disabled people out of work has not fallen in that time, but remained static at around 3.7 million.