Two people wrapped up warm inside their home/ They are thinking about the overdue bills they have an unable to pout their heat on.

Disability Poverty and Social Justice

7 February 2024

Disabled people are living in poverty in the UK. Here you can find data about the current state of play, and how we can challenge systems that keep us in poverty.

Disability Poverty

1 in 5 people in the UK live in poverty in 2024. Poverty is a political choice and is the result of longstanding neglect from government.

UK Poverty 2024: The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK | Joseph Rowntree Foundation (

This years JRF report on UK Poverty by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation tells us that:

  • 31 % of Disabled people live in poverty (12% higher than non-disabled)
  • Disabled working age people were twice as likely to live in poverty compared to non-disabled (36 % compared to 17%
  • If someone living in the family is Disabled- the whole family is more likely to be in poverty
  • Disabled people are more likely to be in very deep poverty

When they looked at deep poverty, that is people living on an income below the poverty line, JRF found that four in ten of those in poverty were in very deep poverty. The poorest families had an average income that was 59% below the poverty line, with this gap increasing by around two-thirds over the past 25 years.

The data is shocking, but not unsurprising.




  • The disability employment gap is widening since 2020. This shows that disabled people have been hit harder by job losses since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also shows disabled people are  less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.
  • The number of disabled people receiving benefits ALSO dropped. This shows that people are not moving off benefits into work but that there is a group of people who are not receiving support anymore.

This last statement shows the appalling reality that there are many disabled people who have no support and are not able to meet their basic needs. 

  • More disabled people are in work, but there are more disabled people in poverty- why? Moving disabled people into work does not resolve poverty.
  • Benefits have lost and continue to lose value, but we’re never set at appropriate levels in the first place. They have not kept up with rising costs.

The proposed removal of the WCA and moving towards PIP is fraught with (terrifying) difficulties. We are very concerned about the impact this will have on poverty rates going forward. The type of work available for disabled people is an important factor.


Extra costs faced by disabled people

The extra costs of being disabled are many and diverse. Scope calls this the Disability Price Tag, and their latest findings are that disabled people’s households need an additional £975 a month to have the same standard of living as non-disabled households.


Disabled People in the North East

  • Disabled people in the North East are more likely to live in poverty than elsewhere England.
  • Likewise we have the highest rate of disability in England.

This article for The Big Issue by Rachel Charlton-Dailey outlines what its like to be disabled in the North East. Why poverty is even harder if you’re disabled and from North East – The Big Issue


Join us to help make the North East a fairer place for Disabled people.