1 in 4 working age disabled people live in ‘deep poverty’, report finds


Campaigners warn that DWP policies have worsened conditions for disabled people in recent years

A QUARTER of working age disabled people, 2.8 million across the UK, are living in ‘deep poverty’, meaning they earn less than half the median national income, according to a new report.

The Disability and Poverty Report by the New Policy Institute (NPI), sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also found that almost half of people in the UK living in poverty were either disabled themselves, or lived in a household with a disabled person.

The report’s findings come in the midst of the Scottish Government’s consultation into creating a new social security system.

A spokesperson for the Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) told CommonSpace that the report accurately reflects the experience of their members.

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She said: “The NPI report evidences what disabled people across Glasgow and Scotland already know to be true, from our lived experience: that at any age, we face inequality, barriers and disadvantage across all areas of life.”

GDA is the largest disabled people’s membership organisation in the country, with more than 3,000 members in the Glasgow area.

It is one of the central organisations being consulted by the Scottish Government on how newly devolved welfare powers, including disability and carers assistance payments, should work. Jeane Freeman, Scottish Government minister for social security, will meet with GDA staff and members at the group’s learning festival on 1 September.

The GDA spokeperson said: “GDA members have been working with the Scottish Government, sharing their experiences and helping lay the groundwork for a fairer social security system in Scotland, under the new powers; and in Glasgow GDA is working with the local authority to drive forwards an independent living strategy that puts disability at the heart of improving economic outcomes across the city.”

She added that Scottish social security would need to represent a huge improvement on the department for work and pensions’ (DWP) austerity regime, which saw widespread use of sanctions against welfare claimants.

Twenty-six per cent of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned since the onset of austerity measures in 2010 were disabled people. Thousands of disabled people have died across the UK after being found fit for work by the DWP following assesments by French firm Atos.

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The spokesperson said: “Westminster’s inhumane and target-driven assessment regimes, for the support disabled people rely on, push many disabled people to desperation just to prove their entitlement, and destitution when they can’t reach the shifting goal posts.

“Rights that disabled people fought hard for are being eroded and denied, with the result that as a group we are pushed further into poverty and isolation.”

The Scottish Government’s consultation will conclude in mid November.

The full NPI report can be read here.

Picture courtesy of Glasgow Disability Alliance

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