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News | Published February 07 2020

Half of those living in poverty are disabled or live with someone who is

According to research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 50 per cent of the 14 million people living in poverty in the UK are disabled or are living with someone with a disability.

The research found that disabled people are less likely to be employed and if they are, they are likely to work an average of 13 hours less each week. This translates to disabled households being £200 worse off each week.

The effect is also felt by those who act as carers. Of the 4.5 million informal adult carers across the country, roughly a quarter were living in poverty. This was particularly prevalent among working-age female carers.

The Joseph Rowntree will publish their annual report today. 

In this report, the charity will urge the government to reform the benefits system and increase the number of flexible jobs available to disabled people to tackle low pay.

Responding to these findings, Claire Ainsley, the charity’s executive director, criticised the benefits system for failing to prevent “shamefully high numbers” of disabled people being plunged into poverty. 

She said: “The fact that disability continues to be an indicator of poverty shows the economy is not working for everyone.”

Last year, 31 per cent of the 13 million disabled people in the UK lived in poverty; for non-disabled people, the rate was 20 per cent. 

A further three million non-disabled people living in a house with a disabled person were in poverty, bringing the overall figure to around seven million: half of all the people in the UK living in poverty.

In 2017/18, 50 per cent of working age disabled people were out of work, compared to 18 per cent on non-disabled people. The report also found that disabled workers are also paid less than their non-disabled counterparts with the same level of qualifications.

The charity’s report put forward three measures and goals to help track progress towards tackling poverty going forward. The first was to establish a goal of a poverty rate of less than 10 per cent; it is currently 22 per cent. Secondly, the charity said that destitution should be entirely eradicated. Thirdly, the amount of time spent in poverty should be tracked, with a goal of no one living in poverty for more than two years.

The findings of the report were echoed by James Taylor, head of policy and campaigns at Scope. He said: “Life costs much more for disabled people – on average £583 a month.

“At the same time, huge numbers of disabled people are denied the opportunity to get into and stay in work.”

In order to tackle this issue, the Department for Work and Pensions has set itself a goal of getting one million more disabled people into work by 2027. This, however, would still leave roughly 2.2 million disabled adults out of work.  


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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
@theparlreview
February 07 2020

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