Skip to main content
Social security
Cost of living

UK Poverty 2019/20: Social security

We need to redesign the social security system to provide adequate support for people who are disabled.

Written by:
Gemma Schwendel
Date published:

In a society that believes in compassion and justice, it’s simply wrong that having a disability can mean you are more likely to be locked in poverty than someone who is not disabled.

Three in ten of the 13 million people with disabilities in the UK live in poverty: 3.8 million adults and 300,000 children. By contrast, the poverty rate among the non-disabled population is 20%, and this gap has persisted over recent years.

In addition to this, a further 3 million non-disabled people who are in poverty live in a household where someone is disabled. This means that overall, nearly half of the 14 million people in poverty are affected by disability in some way.

Poverty is particularly high amongst families where there is both an adult and a child who is disabled, with 4 in 10 trapped in poverty; twice the rate of families where there is no disability.

Changes that will help

In June 2019, the Government launched a campaign to tackle the barriers faced by those with disabilities, acknowledging that inequalities persist and it’s time that those inequalities are addressed.

The social security system should alleviate some of the difficulties that arise from having a disability, including:

  • care needs,
  • rising costs of disability,
  • low-paid, insecure work.

However, at present the system is failing to provide sufficient support for many. As the Government seeks to support those with disabilities through every phase of their lives, it is vital that they work alongside people affected to redesign the social security system so it removes barriers, creating a level playing field for all.

Young man sat on a bench, looking into the distance with a cap on.

This report is part of the social security topic.

Find out more about our work in this area.

Discover more about social security