Headlines: December 13th, 2005

One in three disabled adults of working age lives in poverty, double the rate among non-disabled people and a higher proportion than a decade ago. A report today shows that disabled adults are now more likely to live in poor households than either pensioners or children.The latest report on tackling social exclusion has been produced for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by authors from the New Policy Institute. It shows that many of the 50 indicators under scrutiny for the past seven years have improved in the last year, but it highlights particular problems among disabled people, including those who work for low wages and those who would like employment but cannot get a job.

The report, “Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK 2005” finds that a quarter of people between 45 and 64 are affected by an impairment or long-term sickness, but it is twice as common among the poorest fifth of people. Around 800,000 disabled people between 25 and retirement age are economically inactive but want to work, compared with only 200,000 who are officially counted as unemployed.

At every level of educational qualification, a disabled person is around three times more likely to want to work but be unable to find a job as a non-disabled person. The figure among disabled graduates, 14 per cent, is higher than that for non-disabled adults with no qualifications at all. The study also finds that disability increases the likelihood that those in work will be on low pay.

One of the report’s authors, Guy Palmer, said poverty among children and pensioners was decreasing because policies to address them had been implemented. But poverty among disabled people was high and rising and there was little by way of Government policy to help. “Tackling disabled poverty needs to be made a top priority,” he said.

Looking across the 50 indicators of poverty the monitoring report shows that 20 have improved in the past year and 20 have held steady. Four showed what the report calls “mixed progress” and only two have worsened. Over a five-year timescale, 18 indicators show improvement, and six have got worse.

‘Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2005’ by Guy Palmer, Jane Carr and Peter Kenway is published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.