Government launches review to boost employment prospects for autistic people


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a government review designed to investigate boosting employment prospects for autistic people.

Mel Stride MP, secretary of state for work and pensions, has appointed Sir Robert Buckland MP to lead the review, which aims to consider how the government can work with UK employers in order to help more autistic people get into work.

The Buckland Review of Autism Employment was created with support from charity organisation Autistica, and aims to address low employment among autistic people. In 2021, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that only 22% of autistic people were in any kind of employment.

The review will engage with businesses, employment organisations, specialist support groups and autistic people in order to identify the key barriers to securing, retaining and progressing careers.

The review was formed to consider how employers identify and support autistic staff already in their workforce, what more could be done to prepare autistic people effectively for beginning or returning to a career, and what working practices or initiatives could help reduce stigma and improve the productivity of autistic employees. It will aim to develop solutions that are acceptable to autistic people, effective at improving their outcomes, and feasible for employers and public services to deliver.

The review will also look at those employers already benefitting from a neurodiverse workforce, and consider how the relevant adjustment and initiatives could further benefit those with other neurodevelopmental conditions, such as ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

The deadline for recommendations is September 2023, with the review opening for comments next week.

Dr James Cusack, chief executive of Autistica, said: “The benefits for autistic people and society will be huge if we can give autistic people the opportunity to work and thrive in employment. That’s why as a charity we want to see a doubling of the employment rate for autistic people by 2030.

“We are delighted to support the government on this vital review which will enable us to move from awareness to evidence-based action. This will help us to rethink how we approach autistic people’s access to work and perhaps drive a wider rethink around how we accommodate everyone in work, as we all think differently with unique strengths, challenges and needs.”

Tom Pursglove MP, minister for disabled people, health and work, said: “We know autistic people can face barriers moving into employment and staying there. This is often down to the employers themselves not having the tools to support autistic people, or truly understanding the value of a neurodiverse workforce.

“This important review will provide us with vital information to remove these barriers and help more autistic people start, stay and succeed in work by ensuring more employers provide truly inclusive places to work. I look forward to seeing the recommendations from the review.”

Buckland added: “I am delighted to have been asked to lead this important review. Our workplaces and businesses would benefit so much from the huge potential that autistic people represent.

“If we close the employment gap for autistic people, it will not just mean individual fulfilment but a significant boost to employment and productivity for our country.”