According to new research led by Professor Martin Knapp of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and King's College London and commissioned by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, the annual cost of autism to the UK is just under £28 billion.
The findings, detailed in the Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK report, reveals that children with autism cost £2.7 billion a year, yet for adults the figure is £25 billion - more than eight times as much. There are approximately 540,000 people with autism in the UK - 433,000 adults and 107,000 children.
Funded by the Shirley Foundation and led by Professor Martin Knapp the research shows that for adults with autism the highest costs are those generated by health and social care provision (59 per cent), followed by lost employment (36 per cent) and family expenses (5 per cent).
The report says that more supported employment opportunities for people with autism are needed. LSE Professor Martin Knapp said: 'Lost productivity for people with autism and their families costs the UK economy almost £10 billion. At a time when the government is emphasising the need for higher rates of economic activity, and is trying to support people with disabilities and long-term conditions to move into paid employment, these high costs stand out. Very few people with autism are in employment - it will be no easy task to achieve higher employment rates among this group but the figures suggest that the government should most definitely try.'
Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, said: 'These figures illustrate the real cost of autism and give serious weight to the argument that more resources are needed to intervene early and effectively in the lives of those who are affected by the condition. Early intervention would help individuals with autism and their families experience a better quality of life and reduce the high costs incurred in later years, saving public money.
'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.'
To obtain a copy of the report or to arrange interviews, contact the press office team at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities on 020 7803 1130 /1126.
'Denying work to autistic people is expensive' (19 Nov)
The lifetime cost to society of someone with autism could be as high as £4.7 million per person, according to a study today which calls for more job opportunities for those with the condition. The report, Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK, was led by Professor Martin Knapp, of the London School of Economics, who said: 'Lost productivity for people with autism and their families costs the UK economy almost £10 billion.'
Channel 4 News
Autism costs UK £28bn a year
19 November 2007