Counting the cost
The link between disability and poverty is well established. High levels of unemployment and unstable and low paid employment means disabled people are more likely to live below the poverty threshold and be dependent on benefits as a proportion of their income. Increased unemployment and a range of welfare and public service cuts following the economic downturn has only exacerbated the situation, with disability benefit claimants set to lose £9 billion in benefits over the course of the next Parliament.
Yet disability poverty is a dual phenomenon, driven by lower incomes and higher costs. In what Amartya Sen called the ‘conversion disadvantage’, many disabled people need to spend more than nondisabled people to achieve the same standard of living.
Counting the Cost argues that the Government could reduce disability poverty more effectively, and for larger numbers of people, by reducing costs rather than increasing income. Disability costs are not solely generated by factors government cannot change such as impairment, condition or age. They are driven by a range of environmental factors which, with the right intervention, could reduce disability costs significantly.