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Summary: Disability and Income and Poverty

MoneySummary: Disability and Income and Poverty

  • Poverty rates remained higher for households with a disabled adult. 
  • In 2015-16, 19% of people in families containing a disabled adult were in relative poverty before housing costs. For families with no disabled adults the figure was 15%.

Disability Infograhic 1


  • After housing costs, 23% of people in families containing a disabled adult were in poverty, compared with 18% for those without.

Disability Infographic 2

  • Despite the longer term decreasing trend for both groups, the gap between them has not decreased and households with a disabled adult are still more likely to live in poverty.
  • Due to a change in the way information on people with disabilities was collected, it is not possible to compare the most recent years with years before 2012-13 but before that, the trend had been decreasing poverty for both groups.

Source: Income and Poverty – Main Analysis


  • Disabled people were less likely to be coping financially. Households that contained at least one person with a long-term illness or a disability were more likely to be ‘not coping’ (15%) than those that did not (10%). The corresponding ‘coping’ figures were 41% and 53% respectively.

Source: Scottish Household Survey, 2009-10, as cited in The Position of Scotland’s Equality Groups. Revisiting Resilience in 2011


  • Households across Great Britain with a member with a long-standing illness or disability do not appear particularly disadvantaged in the wealth distribution compared to households where there is no disability. However, there is great inequality within disabled households.

Source: Wealth and Assets Survey 2006-08, as cited in EHRC Triennial Review: How fair is Britain? Chapter 12: Standards of Living


  • Disabled people across Great Britain in all age categories are more likely than non-disabled people to have no bank account and no home contents insurance. This appears to be particularly true for people with a learning disability.

Source: Family Resources Survey 2007-08, as cited in EHRC Triennial Review: How fair is Britain? Chapter 12: Standards of Living


Area-based Deprivation

  • People with a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability were more prevalent in deprived areas in Scotland. The red horizontal line represents the proportion of people in Scotland who reported a limiting problem (19.6%).
  • In 2011, 27 per cent of people in deprived areas recorded a problem compared to 18 per cent in non-deprived areas. The greater difference was amongst those who were limited a lot by their problem (15 per cent compared to 9 per cent).

A chart showing disability prevalence by deprivation in Scotland, 2011

Source: Overview of Equality results from the 2011 Census Release 2 (2014)

The prevalence of limiting long-term health problems or disability increased with each deprivation decile:

  • People who lived in the most deprived decile were twice as likely to report that they were limited by a long-term health problem or disability than those in the least deprived decile (28% compared to 13%).
  • People who lived in the most deprived decile were over three times more likely to report that they were limited a lot by a long-term health problem of disability than those in the least deprived decile (16% compared to 5%).

A chart showing disability prevalence by SIMD decile in Scotland,2011

Source: Overview of Equality results from the 2011 Census Release 2 (2014)


Pay Gap by Disability

External research* by The Poverty Site showed that for both full-time and part-time work, the proportion of employees with a work-limiting disability who were low paid (earning less than £7 per hour) was higher than that for employees without a work-limiting disability.

All the statistics below relate to those aged 25 to retirement and are the average for the latest three years.

Source: Poverty Site research using Labour Force Survey, ONS: the data is the average for 2008 to 2010, UK, and was updated in 2011.

*this research has been carried out independently of the Scottish Government and the findings do not necessarily represent the views of the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers.


Useful Links

Disability Page

Income and Poverty Page

National Performance Framework

National Performance Framework

Fifty National Indicators enable progress towards the achievement of the National Outcomes and ultimately the delivery of the Purpose to be tracked.

Indicators are chosen to show how the Scottish Government are progressing on the range of Outcomes. Equality breakdowns illustrate how protected groups are progressing towards achievement of the National Outcomes, particularly ‘we have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society’.

National Indicator number 35: Reduce the proportion of individuals living in poverty, data table

- progress against this National Indicator, broken down by Disability, can be found under the 'What more do we know about the National indicator?' heading.

Publications and Outputs



Scottish Household Survey and Family Resources Survey microdata is available (through a ‘special licence’ scheme) from the UK Data Archive.

External Links

External Links

Please note that you will leave the Scottish Government web site by clicking on any of the following links, and that the Scottish Government and its staff are not responsible for content external to this web site.

Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Scottish Poverty Information Unit

Poverty Alliance

The Poverty Site - Includes information on Low Pay and Disability

The Poverty Site, links to further analyses

Poverty and Social Exclusion survey - an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded UK survey of the dimensions of relative poverty. The Scottish Government has funded a rural boost of the Scottish sample to enable better analysis of this rich data source. Analysis of the Scottish results by the Heriot-Watt and Glasgow University partners in the project were published in 2013.

Welsh Government 'An analysis on the impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms in Wales' (2013) - this paper focuses on those with protected equality characteristics.


Contact Details

If you have any enquiries relating to Equality and Poverty evidence then please contact us at:




0131 244 3004


Equality and Poverty Analysis Team

Communities Analytical Services

Scottish Government

1F North

Victoria Quay

Edinburgh EH6 6QQ


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