Official Statistics

Disability facts and figures

Published 16 January 2014

About these statistics

These statistics cover Great Britain and are reviewed and updated throughout the year as new data is published. Sources are cited in the footnotes.

Disability prevalence estimates

Read our Disability prevalence estimates factsheet (last updated: January 2014)

General demographics

There are over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability 1.

The most commonly-reported impairments are those that affect mobility, lifting or carrying 2.

The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6% of children are disabled, compared to 16% of working age adults and 45% of adults over State Pension age 3.

Living standards

A substantially higher proportion of individuals who live in families with disabled members live in poverty, compared to individuals who live in families where no one is disabled.

19% of individuals in families with at least one disabled member live in relative income poverty, on a before housing costs basis, compared to 15% of individuals in families with no disabled member 4.

21% of children in families with at least one disabled member are in poverty, a significantly higher proportion than the 16% of children in families with no disabled member.

Employment

According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people. In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate 5.

Education

Between 2005 to 2006 and 2010 to 2011, the percentage of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grades A* to C has:

  • increased from 66.3% to 88.9% for students without Special Educational Needs (SEN)

  • increased from 19.8% to 59.2% for students with SEN without a statement

  • increased from 8.7% to 24.9% for students with SEN with a statement 6

Post-19 Education

Disabled people are around 3 times as likely not to hold any qualifications compared to non-disabled people, and around half as likely to hold a degree-level qualification 7.

19.2% of working age disabled people do not hold any formal qualification, compared to 6.5% of working age non-disabled people 8.

14.9% of working age disabled people hold degree-level qualifications compared to 28.1% of working age non-disabled people 9.

Independent living

Over a quarter of disabled people say that they do not frequently have choice and control over their daily lives 10

Discrimination

Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people. In 2008, 19% of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13% of non-disabled people 11.

Around a third of disabled people experience difficulties related to their impairment in accessing public, commercial and leisure goods and services 12.

Leisure, social and cultural activities

Disabled people remain significantly less likely to participate in cultural, leisure and sporting activities than non-disabled people. Latest data shows disabled people are more likely to have attended a historic environment site, museum or gallery than in 2005 to 2006. However, disabled people are less likely to have attended a library over the same period 13.

Civic involvement and volunteering

Disabled people remain significantly less likely to participate in cultural, leisure and sporting activities than non-disabled people. Latest data shows disabled people are more likely to have attended a historic environment site, museum or gallery than in 2005 to 2006. However disabled people are less likely to have attended a library over the same period 14

Disabled people are significantly less likely to engage in formal volunteering. In 2010 to 2011, 23% of disabled people engaged in formal volunteering at least once a month, compared with 25% of non-disabled people 15.

Transport

Around a fifth of disabled people report having difficulties related to their impairment or disability in accessing transport 16.

Between 2004 to 2005 and 2011 to 2012, the percentage of buses with low-floor wheelchair access increased from 52% to 88% 17.

Communications

Disabled people are significantly less likely to live in households with access to the internet than non-disabled people. In 2011, 61% of disabled people lived in households with internet access, compared to 86% of non-disabled people 18.

Justice System

Disabled people are significantly more likely to be victims of crime than non-disabled people. This gap is largest amongst 16-34 year-olds where 39% of disabled people reported having been a victim of crime compared to 28% of non-disabled people 19.

Disabled people are less likely than their non-disabled peers to think the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is fair. This gap is largest amongst 16-34 year-olds, where 54% of disabled people think that the CJS is fair compared to 66% of non-disabled people 20.

Housing

Although the gap in non-decent accommodation has closed over recent years, 1 in 3 households with a disabled person still live in non-decent accommodation 21.

1 in 5 disabled people requiring adaptations to their home believe that their accommodation is not suitable 22.

Disability equality indicators

The Disability Equality Indicators are a starting point in measuring progress towards disability equality.

  1. Source: Family Resources Survey 2011/12

  2. Source: Family Resources Survey 2011/12

  3. Source: Family Resources Survey 2010/11. State Pension age changed from 2010/11 and so the definition of State Pension age and Working age is not consistent over time. The State Pension age for men is 65 for men born before 6 April 1959. For women born on or before 6 April 1950, the State Pension age is 60. From 6 April 2010, State Pension age for women born on or before 6 April 1950 started to increase gradually between April 2010 and November 2018. For the purpose of this data, women are defined to be of State Pension age based on their date of birth and the date of the interview

  4. Source: Family Resources Survey 2011 to 2012

  5. Source: Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2012

  6. Source: National Pupil Database academic years 2005/06 to 2010/11. These figures are final with the exception of 2010/11 data which are revised figures

  7. Source: Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2012

  8. Source: Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2012

  9. Source: Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2012

  10. Source: ONS Opinions Survey 2011

  11. Source: Fair Treatment at Work Survey 2008

  12. Source: ONS Opinions Survey 2010

  13. Source: Taking Part Survey 2011 to 2012

  14. Source: Citizenship Survey 2010 to 2011

  15. Source: Citizenship Survey 2010 to 2011

  16. Source: ONS Opinions Survey 2011

  17. Source: Department for Transport’s Annual Sample Survey of Bus Operators

  18. Source: British Social Attitudes Survey 2011

  19. Source: British Crime Survey 2010 to 2011

  20. Source: British Crime Survey 2010 to 2011

  21. Source: English House Condition Survey 2008

  22. Source: Survey of English Housing 2007 to 2008