Report highlights struggle of disabled people

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The Independent Online

Many disabled people in Britain are living socially isolated, cash-strapped lives and struggle to participate in normal activities, a new report indicated today.

The bleak findings revealed that disproportionately high numbers of disabled adults said they had limited engagement in leisure, social and cultural activities, social contact, learning opportunities and paid work.

They also suffered restrictions in using transport, affording expenses or loan repayments, accessing rooms in their home and buildings outside their home.

More than a quarter of adults (26%) were identified as having some kind of disability, according to the Life Opportunities Survey Interim Report published by the Office for National Statistics.

Some 29% were classed as having an impairment of some sort.

The report paints a grim picture of large numbers of disabled people being riddled with so much anxiety and lack of confidence that they struggle to lead a normal life.

Such feelings of uncertainty were found to be the second most common barrier to employment, with 19% of adults with impairments citing them as an impediment in relation to the type or amount of work they did.

These feelings affected the type or amount of work done by only 4% of adults without impairments.

Feeling insecure also stopped many adults with impairments from using long-distance buses and long-distance trains, with that acting as a barrier to 13% and 12% of them respectively.

This compared to 3% and 2% respectively among those without impairments.

More than half of adults (56%) with impairments experienced restrictions in the type or amount of paid work they did, compared with 26% of those without impairments.

Almost half of households where at least one person had an impairment (45%) were unable to afford expenses or make loan repayments.

This compares with 29% of households where no-one has an impairment.

The vast majority of adults with impairments (83%) had limited participation in leisure, social and cultural activities and almost a quarter (24%) had limited social contact.

Financial reasons were behind several problems faced by adults with impairments, including barriers to learning and going on holiday.

Some 32% of households where at least one person had an impairment could not afford to pay for a week's annual break away from home, compared with 20% of households where no-one had an impairment.

Buildings such as shops and hospitals were found to be harder to access for those with impairments, posing problems for 29% of them, compared to just 7% for those without.

Employment opportunities were also more limited for those with impairments than for other people, but reduced working hours helped them overcome this, according to the findings.

Tax credits also helped improve employment opportunities for them, the report found.

Impairments were defined as the loss of physiological and psychological functions of the body, such as loss of sight, hearing, mobility of learning capacity.