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Nearly half of all those living in poverty live in a household where someone is disabled

29 July 2019

Nearly half of all those living in poverty live in a household where someone is disabled according to a report published today by the Social Metrics Commission.

The commission’s membership is drawn from experts across the political spectrum, and includes representatives from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. It was set up in 2016 to develop a new way of measuring poverty.

 Among the findings of the SMC report include SMC that:

  •  6.8 million people in poverty are living in families that include a disabled adult or child. This means that nearly half (48%) of people in poverty live in a family where someone is disabled,
  •  poverty rates are higher for people living in families that include a disabled adult or child (28%) than they are for people living in families where no one is disabled (19%).
  •  more than four in ten people (41%) living in a family that includes both a disabled adult and child are living in poverty.
  •  4.5 million people are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 7 million people are living in persistent poverty.
  •  there are 14.3 million people in poverty in the UK. This includes 8.3 million working-age adults; 4.6 million children; and 1.3 million pension-age adults.
  •  just under half (49%) of those in poverty are in persistent poverty, meaning they are in poverty now and have also been in poverty for at least two of the previous three years.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:

“The number of disabled people living in poverty is an outrage but unfortunately not surprising.

The social security system is intended to provide a financial safety net for some of the most vulnerable people in our society including disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.

Yet, since 2008, changes to welfare benefits have led to this safety net failing, causing people to feel abandoned by a cruel and unfair system.

These changes have had a devastating impact on disabled people and. financial security for most disabled people has all but vanished and who have been left living in poverty and isolation as a result.

DR UK is a member of the Disability Benefit’s Consortium (DBC).

The recent DBC report - Has welfare become unfair - highlighted that while disabled people have typically lost around £1,200 per year due to welfare reform.

However, the report is also important as it makes a series of recommendations including to remove disabled people from poverty, including:

  • an end the benefit freeze;
  • bringing back the ESA work-related activity component and the equivalent element in universal credit;
  • introducing a disability element to universal credit to replace the disability premiums that have been cut from the system
  • removing the benefit cap for everyone who receives a disability-related benefit; 
  • returning the work allowances in universal credit to pre-2016 levels; and
  • reviewing the assessment criteria for PIP.

The SMC report Measuring Poverty 2019 is available @ https://socialmetricscommission.org.uk