A journey less equal

04 May 2017

A new report into disability inequality in Great Britain has found that while progress has been made in some areas, the overall picture emerging from the data is that disabled people are facing more barriers.

The new report, 'Being disabled in Britain', is a review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.The report highlights the scale of disability inequalities in Great Britain, and the wider impact of unmet need on dignity, control and social contact. Recommendations include a focus on strengthening disabled people’s choice, autonomy and control over decisions and services.

The report, 'Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal', is a review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, offering comprehensive evidence on whether our society lives up to its promise to be fair to all its citizens. The report builds on its statutory five-yearly report on equality and human rights progress in England, Scotland and Wales, ‘Is Britain Fairer?’

The report covers six core areas of life, including education, work, health, justice and participation in politics, looking at where there has been progress and where there are still serious issues to be tackled. It also looks the experiences of those with different physical disabilities and how these impact on people’s life chances.

It found that disabled people in the UK were experiencing disadvantages in all six areas. The report found a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment and barriers to access to transport, health services and housing. It highlighted a "persistent and widening" disability pay gap and deteriorating access to justice.

The wider impact of unmet need on dignity, control and social contact was highlighted, with people stating they felt trapped in their homes, had no social life, or were heavily dependent on the support of others.

The review found that the ‘financial penalty’ an individual faces affects their standard of living and can limit their family life, opportunities to learn, work, and participate in civic life. Families in the UK with a disabled member were more likely to live in relative poverty than non-disabled families.

Importantly, it recognises that our lives are not lived in neat and distinct categories: It says that it is critical that policy makers and influencers across all sectors recognise how the issues we have identified interact and accumulate throughout disabled people’s life journeys. For example, being unable to access appropriate health services or public transport affects people’s ability to access and benefit from education or work.

The report makes several key recommendations including to: promote the inclusion and participation of disabled people in civic and political life; ensure that essential services, such as housing, health, transport and justice, meet the particular needs of disabled people and support their independence and wellbeing; and to strengthen disabled people’s choice, autonomy and control over decisions and services.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is calling on the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments to place a new national focus on disability equality, so that the rights of disabled people are fully realised, and to deliver improvements in disabled people’s experience and outcomes.

David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“It is a badge of shame on our society that millions of disabled people in Britain are still not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the everyday rights non-disabled people take for granted, such as being able to access transport, appropriate health services and housing, or benefit from education and employment.

“The disability pay gap is persistent and widening, access to justice has deteriorated, and welfare reforms have significantly affected the already low living standards of disabled people.

“It is essential that as a society we recognise and address these structural problems urgently and comprehensively. We are calling for a new national focus on disability rights, so that disabled people are no longer treated as ‘second-class citizens’.”


To read or download the report, click here.

To read more news from the Trust, click here


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