The number of disabled people in “absolute” poverty rose by 100,000 during the coalition’s second year in office, according to new figures obtained by Disability News Service (DNS).
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published figures two weeks ago that showed the number of disabled people in “relative” poverty – those who are poor in comparison with the general population – fell by 100,000 in 2011-12.
This fall only occurred because the real value of benefits dropped by less than real wages, with disabled people likely to receive a larger proportion of their income in benefits than non-disabled people.
But the government declined to publish figures for disabled people in absolute poverty. Now the DWP response to a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request by DNS may have revealed why.
The DWP response shows that the number of disabled people in absolute poverty – those who do not have enough income to meet their basic needs – rose by 100,000 in 2011-12.
In 2010-11, there were 3.6 million disabled people in absolute poverty. By 2011-12, this had risen to 3.7 million.
DWP defines disability poverty as an individual living in low income in a family where at least one member is disabled.
DWP said, in its response to the FoIA request: “The number of disabled people in absolute poverty has increased.
“This was due to incomes not increasing as fast as inflation, which was very high and is now coming down.”
The DWP report did admit that, because the impact of disability-related costs is still not taken into account, there are likely to be even more disabled people in poverty than shown by the official figures.