Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain has agreed to meet Leonard Cheshire Disability representatives next month to discuss the charity’s call for the government to place a higher priority on tackling poverty among disabled people.
A report out today by the charity found that more disabled people – three million – live in relative poverty now than when Labour came to power, and prevalence is twice as high as among non-disabled people.
Leonard Cheshire Disability is calling on the government to develop a disability poverty strategy, which would fill what the report described as the “missing link” in the government’s anti-poverty strategy, with its emphasis on children and older people.
The report estimated that the additional costs of being disabled, such as mobility aids or social care support, added an extra 25% to expenditure levels faced by non-disabled people.
John Knight, the charity’s head of policy, said welfare benefits were “woefully inadequate” to meet the extra costs of being disabled, and to provide dignity and choice for disabled people, in accordance with the government’s social care agenda.
The report said the system of charging for social care services discouraged disabled people from saving. Half of disabled respondents to a survey for the charity’s Disability Review 2007, published in November, said they had no savings.
The report recommended that the government should establish disability poverty indicators, against which it would measure progress. These included:
● Proportion of disabled people living in a household earning 60% of median income or less.
● Percentage of disabled people with savings.
● Employment rate for disabled people, broken down by impairment group.
● Percentage of disabled people with no qualifications.