It is a pleasure and an honour to follow Huw Merriman and, in spirit, Dame Cheryl Gillan, who we truly salute today and all of this year as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act 2009. Both he and she will agree with me that there is still a lot to be done. I am proud to be one of the all-party group’s officers chairing one of the commissions marking that anniversary and measuring progress; the one I am chairing is on employment and autism and that will be the subject of my remarks today. I also thank my staff Mike Davies and Ravina Shah, who lead for me on autism, and the work of the National Autistic Society, particularly our regional rep Henry and the Bristol Autism Spectrum Service.
According to a recent report by the National Autistic Society, only 16% of working-age people with autism are in full-time employment, and only 32% of people with autism are in any kind of paid employment. That contrasts with the fact that 47% of working-age disabled people are in employment and 80% of working-age people without disabilities are in employment.