The contribution of people with learning disabilities to the Scottish economy and society has been ‘underestimated’, according to new research.

The work, carried out by Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities, was presented today to a new research body – the Scottish Learning Disability Research Network – at a conference in Perth. However, despite the contribution to the economy, the organisation has claimed more can be done to help people with learning disabilities find employment through traditional routes. The announcement was made by Dr Lisa Curtice, director of the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities as part of the initial findings of the review of ‘The Same as You?’ report. The findings on employment were based on interviews with people with learning disabilities.

Dr Curtice said: “The current methods of measuring the economic input of people with learning disabilities into the economy is problematic because it does not take into account the significant amount of unpaid work done by people with learning disabilities. We found that it is common for people to have a mixture of paid and voluntary work, but to be paid for only a few hours work. We were also concerned to learn that none of the people we interviewed had got a job through a mainstream employability provider, but had instead found routes to work through friends, family and social workers. From this it is clear that more needs to be done to show that people with learning disabilities are skilled and valuable employees.” The Scottish Learning Disability Research Network was launched in March 2011. Individuals and organisations wishing to join the network can do so by contacting them direct.