Intersectionality Week: Poverty and Disability

Posted 20 January 2021
Disabled Students' Rep, Sarah-Marie, talks about poverty and disability.
Disabled Students' Rep, Sarah-Marie, talks about poverty and disability.


4 million people with disabilities in the UK are living in poverty.

Disabled people face a higher cost of living because of their health conditions, with an average of an extra £583 per month; with 1 in 5 adults facing extra costs of £1000 a month after receiving welfare payments designed to cover those costs. As you can see, it very quickly adds up and is obvious how so many people with disabilities and those who live with disabled people end up in poverty.

The extra costs involved:

  • Equipment e.g. wheelchairs, incontinence pads.

  • Higher energy bills e.g. charging assistive technology and needing more heating to stay warm.

  • House adaptions e.g. bathroom adaptations, lifts.

  • Discrimination e.g. unable to use public transport due to inaccessibility, so having to pay for private transport. 

  • Direct discrimination e.g. charged extra premiums for life assurance, content and motor insurance, and mortgage facilities. 

Poverty in the disabled population has caused people to become isolated due to the inaccessibility of social venues and it is thought that insufficient income is also a primary cause of social exclusion. 

At an employment level, 46% of people with a disability (that are of working-age) are employed, that is 30% lower than the non-disabled population. Even with a degree, there is still a 15% gap. Being unemployed can easily lead to poverty and that is prevalent in the disabled community.

Wealth can hide disability in many ways, such as:

  • Easy access to quality nutrition i.e. food delivery services.

  • Equipment that allows maximum social cohesion (i.e. lightweight wheelchairs, accessible accommodation).

  • Able to use private healthcare/ transportation which has less wait times and is generally more inclusive.

Disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Causing poverty through job loss and reduced earnings, creating barriers to education and skills development while also incurring significant additional expenses. People in poverty are often at risk of ill health and injuries, which can lead to disability. 



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