Labour Research December 2009

Equality news

Benefits system fails people with autism

Inadequacies in the employment and benefits system cause people with autism to experience “confusion, delays and discrimination,” says a national charity.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has called for a government strategy to boost the low numbers of adults with autism in employment. It says that currently a third of the UK’s 300,000 people with autism live without a job or benefits. Of those receiving Incapacity Benefit, fully 80% want a job although more than a third feel their disability employment adviser’s knowledge of autism is “bad” or “very bad”.

Half of people with autism have spent time without a job or benefits, and many have had to rely on family and friends.

The NAS wants a national strategy to combat this and is campaigning for measures for a fairer employment and benefits system. It wants this to include getting rid of the need for a sick note, as well as a better understanding of autism by Jobcentre Plus staff who provide employment support and determine eligibility for benefits.

NAS chief executive Mark Lever said: “People with autism say their experiences of the employment and benefits system are marred by anxiety, confusion, delays and discrimination. It is absolutely vital they are able to access the right help and services if seeking employment and are supported financially when they cannot work.”