Disability and poverty

The poverty rate among people in families where someone has a disability rose by 2 percentage points last year. This appears to be linked to their costs of renting.

In 2013/14, 27 per cent of people in families where someone is disabled were in poverty, compared with 19 per cent of those in families where no one is disabled, using the standard after housing costs measure. But this figure includes as income disability benefits provided in recognition of the additional cost of living with a disability (Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance). As recipients of these benefits are assessed to require a higher income to have the same standard of living as someone who is not disabled, it makes sense to disregard the income from these benefits.

This tends to increase the poverty rate among people in families with disabled members. In 2013/14 this increased the poverty rate among people in families with a disabled person by four percentage points, to 31 per cent. It is difficult to assess how the poverty rate among people in families with disabled members has changed over the long term. In 2012/13 there was a change in the way that disability was recorded so caution should be applied when comparing the last two years of data with earlier years.

Within these last two years however, the poverty rate among families with a disabled person did not change which suggests that the rise could be linked to housing costs or tenure. Using the BHC poverty measure there were 3.7 million people in poverty in a family where someone is disabled. Half lived in rented (1.9 million) and half in owner-occupied housing (1.8 million). Both of these were unchanged on the previous year.

Using the unadjusted after housing costs (AHC) measure the number of people in poverty in a family where someone is disabled was 5.1 million. 1.5 million lived in owner-occupied housing, unchanged on the previous year. But most (3.6 million) lived in rented housing, a rise of 400,000 on the previous year.

Indicator: 9A

Indicator: 9B

about this indicator

The first graph shows the proportion of people in poverty under two different measures, and for two different family types. The first measure is the standard, after housing costs measure, as used elsewhere in this report. The second measure deducts Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance (AA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from household income, and adjusts the poverty threshold accordingly, as the deduction itself lowers the median income relative to which poverty is measured. Both measures are shown for families with a disabled person and families without a disabled person.

The second graph shows the number of people in families where someone is disabled in poverty in 2012/13 and 2013/14 by tenure (whether their home is rented or owner-occupied). The bars on the left of the graph show this using the before housing cost measure of poverty and the bars on the right show it for poverty measured after housing costs.

Reliability rating: medium. The measure of poverty excluding disability benefits from income is not an official measure, although it is published by DWP. Moreover, changes in the definition of disability in recent years make longer term comparisons difficult. But the rise in poverty in the most recent year among people in families where someone is disabled using the standard after housing costs measure is statistically significant.

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