Tackling child poverty - third year progress report : annex C - child poverty in families with a disabled adult or child – easy read

What we know about child poverty in families with a disabled adult or child. This is an easy read version of the summary from our report on Child Poverty in Families with a Disabled Adult or Child. This can be found at Annex B.

Child Poverty Progress Report

Child Poverty in Families with a Disabled Adult or Child

Easy Read

Families with a disabled adult or child are more likely to be in poverty. Poverty means not having a lot of money for your family to live on. Sometimes people in poverty find it hard to pay for basic needs like food, clothes or heating.

Nearly half of the children living in poverty were in a family with a disabled person. Being disabled means having a long-lasting health condition which affects a person’s daily life.

Many of these children are also in families with 3 or more children, or where there is only one parent.

Being in Employment

Being in work is not always enough to stay out of poverty. Disabled parents are less likely to have a job than non-disabled parents. Those who do have jobs often work shorter hours.

Some disabled parents, or parents with a disabled family member find it difficult to have a job. This might be because of their health needs. It might be because they spend time looking after the disabled people in their family.

Many would like to have a job but face difficulties in finding one. These include transport, job adverts and applications, discrimination, lack of flexible working and effects on benefits.

Adults need skills and qualifications so they can find and keep well-paid jobs. But disabled parents are more likely to have low or no qualifications.

Some disabled pupils at school also face barriers. These can include not always getting enough support, bullying and loneliness. Disabled pupils often attend school for less time. They have a higher rate of being excluded. This is when a child is not allowed to go to school as a punishment.

Parents need good quality, flexible services they can afford. These are things like childcare and transport. These can help them access employment. These services also help them to spend less.


Parents in families where someone has a long-term health condition find it harder to afford childcare.

Some families with a disabled person like to use informal childcare. Informal childcare means having family or friends look after a child. Others would like formal childcare to meet their child’s needs but it is not available.

Disabled adults and non-disabled adults in low-income families are equally happy with transport. But families with a disabled member can have difficulties that non-disabled people do not have.

We know that disabled people often have higher costs of living. This can be because they need things like special equipment and therapy and have higher transport and energy costs.

These extra costs can mean that it is even harder for many disabled families to afford their living costs.

Disabled families have around the same difficulty with debt as other families. However, families where someone has a long-term condition are less likely to have savings.


The social security system is complicated. Some benefits are delivered by the Scottish Government and others by the UK Government. We know that many disabled families have difficulties with the UK social security system. It can cause stress and anxiety. Many people do not trust the system.

The application process can be difficult and confusing for some disabled people. Many disability benefits will soon move to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government is trying to make these things better.

Families with a disabled member can sometimes rely more on benefits. They suffer more with cuts or changes to who can apply for benefits or support services.

COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on disabled people’s lives. This is not just their health and wellbeing.

The pandemic has had a bad impact on disabled people’s employment. Some barriers were made worse.

Schools being closed may have been very difficult for some families with a disabled member. Many low-income families with disabled children say they have had less support during the pandemic.

Disabled families have been hit harder by the bad financial impacts. Many of them find it harder to feed their families.

Our conclusion

There is no one answer to tackling child poverty among disabled families. Each family is different and has different needs. But stable and flexible work, care, support and income packages are key to the problem.


Email: sjsu@gov.scot

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