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Disabled people

Key points

  • 33% of London households where someone is disabled are living in poverty - compared to a London average of 25%.
  • 51% of working-age disabled people in London are not in paid work - more than twice the proportion of non-disabled Londoners.
  • Disabled people are more likely to be low paid than non-disabled people. In 2014, there were around 120,000 low-paid disabled people in London making up to 14% of all low-paid people London.

Disability is defined on this site as in the Disability Discrimination Act which includes mental illness. Many statistics are not available by disability status, which means the picture of poverty, inequality and disability is incomplete.


Disabled people have a higher poverty rate than non-disabled people. They are also more likely to be materially worse off than others on the same income due to the additional disability-linked living cost they face. They have a higher worklessness rate and when in work are more likely to be paid below the London Living Wage than other employees.

Given the higher rates of worklessness and material deprivation two benefits in particular provide an important source of income to working-age disabled people: Employment Support Allowance (for those who have a disability that prevents them from working) and Personal Independence payments (for those who face a higher living cost due to disability). Both of these benefits are replacements of other similar benefits, but in transition onto the new benefits a claimant must undergo an assessment of their condition. Moreover, there are question marks over future eligibility and levels of both benefits.


In London 33% of people in a household where someone is disabled were in poverty in the three years to 2013/14, this is 8 percentage points higher than for other people in London. Both of these poverty rates are 6 percentage points higher than the equivalent rate for the rest of England. Alongside having a higher poverty rate, disabled people may face additional living costs linked to their disability, which are not factored into these figures. This means that a disabled person above the poverty threshold may not necessarily be materially better off than someone below the poverty threshold without a disability.

Recent analysis by CASE at LSE (for Trust for London) found that incomes for the poorest 10% of disabled Londoners have seen a significant fall in household income since the financial crash. The same team found that median financial, physical and property wealth stood at £48,200 amongst households where at least one individual reports disability, compared to £172,000 amongst households where no individual reports a disability.

The higher poverty rate among people in households containing a disabled person is partly linked to lower employment rates, but they nonetheless more likely to be low paid when in work - see below.

Find out more about poverty and disability from LSE.


Londoners with disabilities are much less likely to be in paid work than non-disabled people: 51% of working-age disabled people do not work compared to 24% of non-disabled people. Overall, while 16% of the working-age population of London are disabled people, 29% of the workless population is disabled.

Find out more about disability and work.


In addition to being less likely to be in work, disabled people are more likely to be low paid than non-disabled people regardless of whether they work full or part time, and regardless of whether they have A-Level qualifications or not. Overall, 34% of disabled people working in London are low paid compared to 24% of non-disabled people. In 2014, there were around 120,000 low-paid disabled people in London, equivalent to 14% or one in seven of all low-paid people.

Find out more about disability and low pay


In London, a lower proportion of under 45s claim a disability-related benefit than in the rest of England. For older age groups, the proportion in London who receive a disability benefit is higher in London than elsewhere. Because there are more young people overall in London, in total a slightly lower proportion of people in the capital claim a disability-related benefit than the rest of England.

Employment Support Allowance (or equivalent) is the most common type of out-of-work benefit claimed in London, received by 318,000 people unable to work through disability or ill-health. This number has remained relatively steady over recent years.

Find out more about disability benefit take-up in London

Find out more about disability in London from Inclusion London.