EHRC Report: Being Disabled in Britain

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has just published the most comprehensive analysis ever on how the rights of Disabled people are protected in Great Britain.

Progress towards real equality for disabled people over the past twenty years is insufficient and ‘littered with missed opportunities and failures’.

That’s according to the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission following the publication of Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal, the most comprehensive analysis ever on how the rights of Disabled people are protected in Great Britain.

David Isaac, Chair of the Commission, commenting on the damning new state of the nation report into life for Disabled people, said:

“Whilst at face value we have travelled far, in reality disabled people are being left behind in society, their life chances remain very poor, and public attitudes have changed very little.

“This evidence can no longer be ignored. Now is the time for a new national focus on the rights of the thirteen million disabled people who live in Britain. They must have the same rights, opportunities and respect as other citizens.

“We must put the rights of disabled people at the heart of our society. We cannot, and must not, allow the next twenty years to be a repeat of the past.”

The report, which covers six key areas of life, finds that disabled people in Britain are experiencing disadvantages in all of them, and sets out vital areas for urgent improvement. Despite significant progress in the laws protecting disabled people’s rights, they are still not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the opportunities and outcomes non-disabled people take for granted.

This includes: a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment; barriers to access to transport, health services and housing; the persistent and widening disability pay gap; deteriorating access to justice; and welfare reforms significantly affecting the already low living standards of disabled people.

The Commission has also highlighted these issues to the United Nations, for their forthcoming examination of how the UK measures up to the international standards on the rights of Disabled people (the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities – CRPD).

The report reveals:

  • In England, the proportion of children with Special Educational Needs achieving at least 5 A*-C GCSEs is three times lower than for non-disabled children (20.0% and 64.2% respectively).They’re also significantly more likely to be permanently or temporarily excluded.
  • The proportion of Disabled people with no qualifications is nearly three times that of non-disabled people, and the proportion of disabled people with a degree remains lower.
  • Less than half of disabled adults are in employment (47.6%), compared with almost 80% of non-disabled adults, and the gap between these groups has widened since 2010/11.
  • The disability pay gap in Britain also continues to widen. Disabled young people (aged 16-24) and Disabled women had the lowest median hourly earnings of all.
  • More Disabled people than non-disabled are living in poverty or are materially deprived.
  • Social security reforms have had a particularly disproportionate, cumulative impact on the rights to independent living and an adequate standard of living for Disabled people. Families in the UK with a Disabled member are more likely to live in relative poverty than non-disabled families.
  • Across the UK, 18.4% of disabled people aged 16-64 were considered to be in food poverty compared with 7.5% of non-disabled people. Disabled people over the age of 65 were twice as likely as non-disabled people in the same age group to be in food poverty.
  • Disabled people continue to face problems in finding adequate housing, due to a shortage in accessible housing across Britain, and in Scotland the amount of wheelchair-adapted local authority housing for physically Disabled people has decreased. Disabled people in Britain were also less likely to own their own home.
  • Accessing healthcare services is problematic for Disabled people, and they’re less likely to report positive experiences. Considerable shortcomings remain in all three countries in the provision of mental health services, where Disabled adults are more likely to report poor mental health and wellbeing than non-disabled adults.
  • There is an urgent need for prisons to monitor and report on prisoner mental health. Prisoners are more likely to have mental health conditions compared with the general population, and 70% of prisoners who died from self-inflicted means between 2012 and 2014 had an identified mental health condition.
  • Detentions in health and social care settings under the Mental Health Act 1983 are continuing to increase in England and Wales. The number of detentions in hospitals increased from 46,600 in 2009 to 2010 to 63,622 in 2016.
  • Changes to legal aid in England and Wales have negatively affected disabled people’s access to justice. Across GB, there has been a 54% drop in employment tribunal claims on grounds of disability discrimination following the introduction of fees in July 2013.



Read the full report: Being disabled in Britain: a journey less equal

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