2018 WBG Briefing: Disabled Women and Austerity

Date Posted: Monday 22nd October 2018

October 2018

AusterityBudgetDisabilitydisabled women

Ahead of the 2018 Autumn Budget, we’ve put together a briefing on the impact of austerity on disabled women.

View and download our full briefing here.


Key points:
  • 14 million people in the UK have a disability: 20% of men and 23% of women are disabled. Overall, 36% of households in the UK have someone with a disability.
  • 7% of disabled people were employed but they were more likely to be underemployed and in low-paid jobs.
  • Disabled women earn less (22.1%) than non-disabled men, a gender pay gap four percentage points higher than between all men and women. Disabled women earn 11.8% less than disabled men.
  • Poverty rates have been increasing since 2010 and now 26% of households with a disabled person are in poverty, compared to 22% in the overall population. This figure is likely to underestimate poverty rates of disabled households as it does not take into account additional costs associated with disability, estimated at £570 per month.
  • Multiple changes since 2010 reduced the generosity and the scope of disability and incapacity benefits. This has a disproportionate impact on women as disabled women are majority of claimants (55%).
  • Benefit sanctions have increased in recent years but the vast majority of sanctions and decisions not to grant disability benefits are overturned on appeal: 63% of PIP cases and 60% of ESA cases are ruled in favour of the claimant. Changes to legal aid saw a sharp decrease of 99% of disability-related cases receiving legal aid support.
  • Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by austerity cuts since 2010. Disabled women are set to lose 13% of their annual net income by 2021 from cumulative tax-benefit changes.
  • Disabled Lone mothers lose out the most from tax and benefit changes since 2010; by 2021 they will lose 21% of their net income if they do not have a disabled child and 32 % if they do. A third of this loss is due to shift to UC.
  • Spending cuts to adult social care and housing support has also affected disabled people disproportionately.
  • Disabled people experience domestic violence at twice the rate as non-disabled people. One in two disabled women experience domestic violence in their lifetime and they face additional barriers in seeking help and support.

Written by Sara Reis (Research and policy officer, WBG) and Jerome De Henau (Senior Lecturer in Economics, the Open University)