Halving the Gap: Making the Work and Health Programme work for disabled people


In the UK, around 6.9 million people aged 16-64 have a long-term health condition or disability. This is equivalent to around one in six of the ‘working age’ population. However,while 80% of those who are not disabled are in work, just 47% of disabled people are in employment.

Of the 3.6 million disabled people who are out of work, nearly half (47%) are neither looking for work nor available for work this is three times the rate for those who are not disabled. Disabled people are half as likely to be actively looking for work as their peers who are not disabled.

Disabled people are a diverse group with a range of capabilities and support needs. This includes some people with impairment-specific barriers as well as those with broader and common barriers such as time out of work, low skills, low confidence and lack of work-readiness. Many face  multiple disadvantages. Employment rates are lowest for those with more significant impairments, for older disabled people and for those with mental health conditions.

The Work and Health Programme is the largest DWP-commissioned employment support programme. This report drew on evidence of what works in disability employment support to inform the design of the programme.