Throughout the world poverty and disability go hand-in-hand
Even in a ‘developed’ country like the UK, disabled people are more likely to be poor than the able-bodied. Government figures show that about 20% of British families with at least one disabled member live in relative poverty compared to only 15% of other families.
There are two key reasons for this. Firstly, disability is an expensive business. Most significantly disabled people face extra costs due to their impairment. They may need to buy specialist equipment, they may have to carry out more laundry, they may need to use taxis because of inaccessible public transport or they may require an extra room to accommodate a personal assistant.
Secondly, it can be hard for disabled people to find paid work. Although there has been some progress, disabled people are still more likely to be unemployed than their non-disabled counterparts. While more than three-quarters of the British working-age non-disabled population are in employment, less than 50% of working-age disabled people have a job. As a result, many disabled people have to rely on benefits and, not surprisingly, have difficulty making ends meet.
I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to obtain employment. After graduating, I spent six months out of work and had to apply for more than 40 jobs before I managed to persuade an employer to recruit me. This was despite having a degree from Cambridge University and a postgraduate diploma. Fifteen years later, I have a rewarding, well-paid job. Like millions of other people, I have to cope with the daily challenges of living with a disability. However, I’m one of the lucky ones. At least I don’t have to cope with poverty as well.