Press Release

Dr Hywel Francis, Aberavon MP warns: “Don’t write off people with autism”

15th October 2009

Dr Hywel Francis MP is backing a National Autistic Society (NAS) campaign to stop adults with autism being written-off by the employment and benefits system. A new report, Don’t write me off by the NAS reveals a third of people with the condition currently live without a job and without benefits; many are forced to rely on family and friends for help.

Dr Francis said,

‘People with autism have a great deal to offer and we know that many want to work but are unable to get the help and support they need to fulfil their potential. It is crucial that people with serious, lifelong and disabling conditions such as autism get the help they need when seeking employment and are supported financially when they cannot work.’

Dr Francis added.

‘Only 15%* of adults with autism in the UK are in fulltime paid employment. The Don’t write me off report reveals that the majority of the over 300,000 working age adults with autism want to work but are being held back by a lack of understanding of autism amongst employment and benefits advisors at Jobcentre Plus and a dearth of specialist employment services. As a result they often experience inadequate job-seeking support, unnecessary and distressing delays in payment, or are being denied essential benefits altogether.’

Research for the Don’t write me off report found:

  • Almost 80% of people with autism on Incapacity Benefit want to work.
  • Over a third said their Disability Employment Advisor’s knowledge of autism was “very bad” or “bad”.
  • Half of people with autism have spent time with neither a job nor benefits with over three quarters of those forced to rely on family and friends as a result.
  • Over 82% needed some kind of help to apply for benefits, but few were made aware of their right to an advocate. In the worst cases parents were actively blocked from helping.

The NAS is calling for a national strategy from government to transform access to employment for people with autism across the UK. The charity is also campaigning for a better understanding of autism across all Jobcentre Plus staff and new measures to make the system fair for people with the disability.

To find out more about the campaign, visit:


  • * Statistic comes from a 2007 survey of 1787 people affected by autism
  • Other statistics come from 323 respondents who completed benefit and employment related surveys; in-depth interviews with 39 people who had spoken to Disability Employment Advisors and ten people going through the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system, all in 2009.
  • ESA replaced Incapacity Benefit in October 2008. It is a new benefit for people over 18 who cannot work, or find it hard to work, because of their disability. From 2010 onwards the Government intends to move everyone on Incapacity Benefit to ESA.
  • Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
  • Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

The National Autistic Society is the UK's leading charity for people with autism and their families. Founded in 1962, it continues to spearhead national and international initiatives and provide a strong voice for all people with autism. The NAS provides a wide range of services to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible.

The NAS relies on the support of its members and donors to continue its vital work for people with autism. To become a member, make a donation or to find out more about the work of the NAS, visit the NAS website

For more information about autism and for help in your area, call the NAS Autism Helpline on: 0845 070 4004 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday, (local rates apply).

The NAS Autism Services Directory is the UK’s most comprehensive directory of services and events for people with autism. Visit to find autism services and support networks in your area.


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