ONS: Outcomes for disabled people in the UK

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office for national statistics

People, population and community

10 February 2022

Outcomes for disabled people in the UK: 2021

Commenting on today’s findings, Julie Stanborough from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said:

“Providing an overview of the different life experiences between disabled and non-disabled people is an important element of our work to identify inequalities in UK society.  While stark differences remain in most life areas, we have seen, among others, an increase to 25% of disabled people now being educated to degree level.  This still needs to be set against the 43% of non-disabled people.”

This is the third in our annual series exploring how aspects of life for disabled people in the UK compared with those of non-disabled people.

We illustrate differences across a range of measures including educational attainment, employment status, housing and well-being.  We also look at how these vary among disabled people depending on their age, sex, impairment type and severity and where in the country they live.

Please note that the data comes from a range of sources and relates to different time periods within 2021 and 2020 and geographies - see full article here as source for reporting statistics accurately.

The key findings relate, unless otherwise stated, to adults aged 16-64. We have plans to look at the experience of disabled people of different age groups, such as children and youths, in future work using Census 2021 data.

Findings for 2021 show that:

  • More than one in ten (13.3%) disabled people aged 21 to 64 years in the UK had no qualifications, nearly three times as many as for non-disabled people (4.6%).
  • A quarter (24.9%) of disabled people aged 21 to 64 years in the UK had a degree as their highest qualification. This compares with 42.7% of non-disabled people. However, the proportion of disabled people educated to degree level was up 1.9 percentage points from last year.
  • Employment rates for disabled people in the UK are 53.5%, compared with 81.6% for non-disabled people. Rates of employment were lowest for disabled people with severe or specific learning difficulties, autism and mental illness. This represents a similar pattern to last year.
  • Home ownership among disabled adults is 39.7%, compared with 53.3% of non-disabled people. A quarter (24.9%) of disabled adults rented social housing compared with only 7.9% of non-disabled people.
  • Comparing the housing situation of disabled people over time, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points was seen in the proportion of home ownership in 2021, compared with 2020 (41.4% in 2020, compared with 39.7% in 2021).

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Providing an overview of the different life experiences of disabled and non-disabled people in the UK is an important element of our work to identify inequalities in society. As today’s findings show, there are some stark differences between the experience of disabled and non-disabled people, from education and work to the experience of loneliness and crime.

We want to ensure that our data meets the needs of those who may be using our statistics. To this end, we’d be grateful if you could share your views by completing this short survey, which should take no more than 10 minutes.

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