Disability and poverty statistics

  • The unemployment rate for working-age disabled people is over fifty per cent.
  • Nearly half of people in poverty are disabled or live with a disabled person.

These are the two main statistics about disability and poverty that I quote on my training course about social security benefits for working-age disabled people. Here is the reported evidence.

46% employment rate for working-age disabled people

According to the 2012 Labour Force Survey:

[D]isabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people. In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people.

48% of people in poverty are disabled or live with a disabled person

The headline statistic, as reported at disabilityrightsuk.org/news, was a finding in the 2016 report, Disability and Poverty, by the New Policy Institute. It was commissioned by the wonderful Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), an independent (Quaker-based) organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice. The Disability and Poverty report Summary states:

28% of those in poverty in the UK are disabled (3.9 million people) while a further 20% of people in poverty (2.7 million) live in a household with a disabled person. Nearly half of the poverty in the UK is therefore directly associated with disability.

31% of people in a family containing a disabled person are in poverty compared with 18% of people in a household with no disabled people.

Other key points in the Summary:

  • Two-thirds of disabled people living alone are in poverty.
  • 44% of disabled young adults are in poverty

Being disabled in Britain – EHRC report

A major new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report, published in April 2017, confirms the above. Being disabled in Britain is part of the EHRC’s statutory task to report every five years on equality and human rights. Among the EHRC’s report’s key findings are that:

  • more disabled people than non-disabled are living in poverty or are materially deprived
  • families in the UK with a disabled member are more likely to live in relative poverty than families without a disabled member
  • less than half of disabled adults are in employment (47.6%), compared with almost 80% of non-disabled adults, and the gap between these groups has widened since 2010/11

(This blog post was updated in June 2017)


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