Disability Facts

This answers the question: “Why does DAS do what it does?”

On this page you can:

  • View the latest available government statistics from the last DWP Family Resources Survey on the extent of disability in the UK: the numbers: by age, by impairment type and by region. Did you know that 45% of people over pension age are disabled?
  • Review the Scope.com research that shows the higher cost of living for the disabled and that they are twice as likely to be unemployed.
  • Review the report: “Being disabled in Britain – A journey less equal” published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The overall emerging picture was that disabled people were facing more barriers and falling further behind. They still are.
  • Review the report by the New Policy Institute Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion which found that “once account is taken of the higher costs faced by those who are disabled, half of people living in poverty are either themselves disabled or are living with a disabled person in their household.”
  • Read how £60M per annum is being wasted on the cost of administering welfare reforms which were designed to reduce the cost of disability benefits. It represents such poor value for money to us the tax payer and its getting worse. On average 75% of appeals (98% during 2020 for DAS) are lost by the Department of Work & Pensions but the impact on disabled people from forcing them to fight in the courts can be devastating, pushing some into poverty and increasing levels of stress and anxiety.
  • Access the Safe Lives research on Disabled People and Domestic Abuse that found the disabled are more than twice as likely to experience some form of domestic abuse than non-disabled victims and that they also suffer more severe and frequent abuse over longer periods of time.
  • Review information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the disproportionate impact of the 2020 pandemic on the disabled.
  • Read about the Social Model of disability to try and understand the disabled persons perspective. It is thought provoking.
  • See the relatively high levels of deprivation that exist respectively in the urban environment of Ipswich and the rural towns and villages of East Suffolk as analysed by Public Health Suffolk.

You can read our summary here:

Latest government statistics on the extent of disability in the UK

According to the Department for Work & Pensions’ Family Resources Survey published in March 2018 there were 13.9 million disabled people (22%) in the UK, an increase of 2 million in three years. No clear single driver for the increase was identified. A person is considered to have a disability if they report a long-standing illness, disability or impairment which causes substantial difficulty with day-to-day activities (the core definition of disability stated in the Equality Act 2010).

13.9 million people

22% of the population

Over one-fifth and up from 20% three years before.

The proportion of disabled people increases with age:

Children 8%
Working age adults 19%
Over state pension age 45%

By age

By impairment type

The most commonly-reported impairments are those that affect mobility, stamina/breathing fatigue, dexterity and mental health.

Of those who reported a disability, 24% reported a mental health impairment, up from 20%; visual impairments decreased from 14% to 12%. Mobility decreased from 53% to 51%. The percentage of people reporting most other impairments remained fairly stable.

Cost of living higher, employment worse

Two inconvenient truths that together make things so much more difficult:

  • Life costs an extra £583 a month on average if you’re disabled.
  • Disabled people are over twice as likely to be unemployed.

Being disabled in Britain – A journey less equal

The Equality and Human Rights Commission promotes and enforces the laws that protect our rights to fairness, dignity and respect. As part of its duties, the Commission provides Parliament and the nation with periodic reports on equality and human rights progress.

In ‘Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal’ it assessed the state of equality and human rights for disabled people in Britain and set out the key areas requiring improvement. The overall picture emerging from the data is that disabled people are facing more barriers and falling further behind.

Poverty and social exclusion

The New Policy Institute in its report Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2016 found, “One aspect of poverty that can be understated in the official statistics is disability. When the extra costs of disability are partially accounted for, half of all people in poverty are either disabled, or in a household with a disabled person. Disability and family type are significant in explaining the children still in workless households; 46% of children in workless households have at least one disabled adult in the household.” Download the report summary below.

£60,000,000 a year is wasted on fighting disability claims

According to the Independent, tax payers fund more than £60million a year fighting disability claims even though on average three out of every four (or 98% in our case so far this year) of cases that end up at a benefit tribunal are lost. Tick-box health assessments by giant outsourcing firms lead to many flawed decisions that mean the outlay by the Department for Work and Pensions is largely wasted. The impact on disabled people from forcing them to fight in the courts, however, can be devastating, pushing some into poverty and increasing levels of stress and anxiety.
Two years before in 2018 the cost was £44m per annum and that 39% increase is far greater than the increase in applications which was 13% for the same period. Despite all this the outsourcing firms earlier this year had their lucrative multi-million pound contracts extended a further two years to 2023.
This is all despite the DWP knowing that PIP claimants have the lowest level of benefit fraud. According to their own report Fraud and Error in the Benefit System (published 17/5/2018) fraud overpayments for the various benefits it controls are as follows: Housing benefit 4.6%, Employment and Support Allowance 2.2%, Pension Credit 3.5%, Jobseeker’s Allowance 4.3%, Universal Credit 4.7%, Personal Independence Payment 1.2%.

Disabled people suffer a higher rate of domestic abuse

Disabled people experience higher rates of domestic abuse than non-disabled. In the year to March 2015 the Crime Survey for England and Wales reported that women and men with a long standing illness or disability were more than twice as likely to experience some form of domestic abuse than women and men with no long standing illness or disability. Research has found that disabled victims of domestic abuse also suffer more severe and frequent abuse over longer periods of time than non-disabled victims.
SafeLives’ data reveals that disabled victims typically endure abuse for an average of 3.3 years before accessing support, compared to 2.3 years for non-disabled victims. Even after receiving support, disabled victims were 8% more likely than non-disabled victims to continue to experience abuse. For one in five (20%) this ongoing abuse was physical and for 7% it was sexual.
For a disabled person, the abuse they experience is often directly linked to their impairments and perpetrated by the individuals they are most dependent on for care, such as intimate partners and family members. National data shows that disabled victims are much more likely to be suffering abuse from a current partner (31%) than non-disabled victims (18%).

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic

From the Office for National Statistics

In a survey carried out in July 2020 (figures for non-disabled in brackets where provided):

  • 75% of disabled people said they were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the effect that the coronavirus was having on their life.
  • 25% (13%) were most concerned about the impact on their well-being.
  • 13% (3%) were most concerned about access to healthcare and treatment.
  • 25% (7%) receiving medical care before the pandemic said they were currently receiving treatment for only some of their conditions.
  • 45% of disabled people reported high anxiety.
  • 46% (18%) say that the pandemic has worsened their mental health.
  • 42% (29%) are feeling lonely.
  • 36% (25%) say they spend too much time alone.
  • 25% (8%) feel like a burden on others, or have no one to talk to about their worries.
  • 40% (29%) had not met up with other people to socialise.
  • 9% (3%) are feeling very unsafe when outside their home.

From Public Health England

People with learning disabilities were up to six times more likely to die from Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic, analysis shows. A report from Public Health England (PHE) found the death rate for those with a learning disability was 30 times higher in the 18-34 age group. Mencap said the government had “failed to protect” a group already experiencing health inequalities. Social Care Minister Helen Whately has announced a review of the findings. (Reported by the BBC 13 November 2020.)

The Social Model

Read here about the Social Model of disability and compare it with the Medical Model to get a better perspective on disability and impairment and get an understanding of the difference between the two.

Indices of deprivation

Many disabled people and their carers living in the communities we serve start off with a disadvantage compared to other areas of Suffolk and of England as a whole according to the Indices of Deprivation 2019 Report published by Public Health Suffolk. Download an extract here: