The Activity Trap: Benefits or being fit?

New research shows almost half of disabled people fear losing benefits if they take part in exercise

Almost half of disabled people (47%) fear losing their benefits if they are seen to be physically active, according to new research published by Activity Alliance.

The research is particularly important as disabled people count for one in five of Britain’s population, almost 14 million people. However, they are currently the least active group in society, and twice as likely as non-disabled people to be inactive.

The study, entitled ‘The Activity Trap: Disabled people’s fear of being active’, shows that four in five disabled people would like to be more active (83%). Respondents’ reasons include that it enables them to manage impairments, pain, and to maintain and improve physical and mental health.

Almost two thirds (65%) of disabled people who participated in the study said they rely on benefits to be active. Without this financial support, they would not be able to afford travel, paid-for exercise and the specialist equipment needed to be active.

However, almost half of those who responded (48%) fear being seen as “too independent” for a disabled person. This could see them lose access to the benefits they need such as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Some participants in the study told Activity Alliance that they live in fear of having their benefits taken away and worry about being reassessed, even if their reassessment date is years away 

Alan Ringland, is chairman of the Birmingham Ability Counts League, the largest league of disabled footballers in England.

Alan, a qualified coach and referee said the league had 455 players three years ago and now only has only 250, with many people dropping out because they have lost benefits after PIP assessment.

The 62-year-old, whose sons both represented England in disability football teams, said:

“I’ve seen players who have lost their PIP and aren’t able to attend anymore. When you see them again you see that they’ve not been as active as they were, often they have put on weight and over time their health may deteriorate.

“Playing football on a Sunday was one day where they really enjoyed themselves and if they don’t take part anymore they can lose confidence, friendships, and the camaraderie that goes with that. In many cases, sport is the only regular social activity in their lives, and taking that away can have a massive impact.”

To download a copy of the report, visit: www.activityalliance.org.uk/activity-trap

View the full  Press Release from Activity Alliance here  and also Quotes related to the report

Disabled people can find out more about the benefits of being active, who to contact and ideas on where and how to get started on Activity Alliance website, visit www.activityalliance.org.uk/get-active.