A major new government report has painted the “most comprehensive overview” since 2005 of the disadvantage and barriers faced by disabled people in the UK.
The 106-page report, Fulfilling Potential: Building a Deeper Understanding of Disability in the UK Today, aims to raise awareness, “inform public understanding”, and prompt debate about the issues facing disabled people.
But it will also feed into the next stage of the government’s disability strategy, Fulfilling Potential, with an action plan due in the spring.
The report, published by the Department for Work and Pensions, lays bare the government’s challenge in addressing the barriers facing disabled people.
Among the report’s findings are that:
• In 2010-11, there were 11.5 million people in the UK covered by the disability provisions of the Equality Act [19 per cent of the population]
• Only around half of these 11.5 million people receive any disability-related benefits
• By the age of 26, disabled people are nearly four times more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people
• Households that include a disabled person who does not receive a disability-related benefit are twice as likely to be in poverty as those with a disabled person who does
• About 20 per cent of households that include a disabled person live in fuel poverty, compared to 15 per cent of those with no disabled person
• Disabled people are significantly less likely than non-disabled people to live in households with internet access (61 per cent compared to 86 per cent)
But the report also suggests that disabled people play a larger part in their local civic life, with 36 per cent of disabled people compared with 33 per cent of non-disabled people involved in activities such as contacting a local councillor or MP, taking part in a public demonstration, or signing a petition.
And the DWP’s report also accepts that disability living allowance – which the coalition is about to scrap and replace with a new benefit for working-age adults – has “a major positive impact on recipients’ lives”.
Quoting a report from 2010, the report says DLA helps disabled people to “maintain independence and control”, “meet some of the extra costs of disability”, “improve quality of life”, “access other help and services”, “enhance physical and mental health”, and “maintain warmer, cleaner, more comfortable homes”.
Disability Rights UK said the report was a “mine of information which must inform policy right across government”, and could be used by disabled people to “influence change”, but that it would be “vital” to track the figures over time.