Autism costs UK economy £28bn a year, foundation finds

People with the most severe forms of autism will cost the UK nearly £5m each in care costs and lost employment over their lifetimes, a new published today has found. The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (FPLD) report found that the annual cost of autism to the UK to be £28bn, 90% of which relates to adults with the condition, largely due to the high costs of residential care, supported accommodation and hospital.

It found the 88% unemployment rate among autistic adults cost the UK economy £9.1bn a year, while the cost in lost productivity from the families of autistic adults was £1.3bn. The foundation said the findings added weight to the argument that more resources need to be invested in early intervention services in the hope that it would reduce the need for expensive care in later life.

Chief executive Andrew McCulloch said: “Children and adolescents with autism often receive adequate support up until school leaving age but are then left stranded with little hope of a meaningful future because they are given little support to enter further education or employment.”

Analysis showed that around half of people with autism in the UK lived in residential care, one-third lived with parents or relatives and the remainder either lived alone, with a partner, in supported accommodation or hospital.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “More research into effectiveness of interventions will help to increase understanding of the most effective ways of supporting people with autism and we will want to consider the findings of this report in that light. The drive for preventive services and early interventions is in keeping with the government’s strategy for improving life chances for disabled people.”

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