Think-tank calls for welfare rethink after report finds persistent poverty

Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty because of the barriers they face in finding paid employment, a wide-ranging report on social exclusion finds.

The number of disabled adults of a working age living below 60 per cent of the average income has increased by 10 per cent over the past decade, says the report by think-tank the New Policy Institute, and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

Peter Kenway, director of the think-tank, said that disabled adults were three times more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. 

He added that this was even the case for disabled graduates. “It is not just a question of getting more qualifications. Even if a disabled person does so, they are more likely to be without work and to be low paid,” he said.

The report calls for an urgent review of the government’s anti-poverty strategy to address the needs of working age adults not in employment, disabled or otherwise.

The Disability Rights Commission said the report highlighted the need for reforms to the welfare state to help families affected by disability rather than simply the individual with a condition.

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire said the average incapacity benefit payment of £90 per week fell far short of meeting individuals’ needs and that more “genuine” assessments were required.

He added that despite the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, companies were still reticent about employing disabled people and this needed to be tackled.

Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in 2006


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