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Survey provides more proof of barriers

A new report has revealed new evidence of the barriers that disabled people face when attempting to participate in society.

The report, by the Office for National Statistics, provides interim findings from the Life Opportunities Survey, a major examination of the social barriers faced by disabled people.

The report suggests that 26 per cent of British adults – or more than 13 million people – would be viewed as disabled under the Equality Act, while 29 per cent of adults have an impairment.

Among its findings, the report says that 56 per cent of adults with impairments face restrictions in the paid work they can do – due to factors such as a lack of job opportunities or family responsibilities – compared with 26 per cent of adults without impairments.

It also says that adults with impairments are twice as likely to say their education opportunities are restricted (17 per cent) as adults without impairments (nine per cent).

And 45 per cent of households where at least one person has an impairment are unable to afford typical household expenses or make loan repayments, compared with 29 per cent of households without anyone who has an impairment.

The report also says that nearly a third of adults with impairments (29 per cent) face a barrier in accessing buildings outside their home, compared with seven per cent of adults without impairments.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: “The government must take this report very seriously.

“It confirms that disabled people are excluded from jobs not through any failings of their own, but because of the barriers they face in getting work.

“Far from being the ‘scroungers’ portrayed by some parts of the media, the great majority of disabled people who are out of work are prevented from working because of their condition, a lack of accessible and suitable transport, and the absence of decent job opportunities.

“The price disabled people and their families are paying is a life in poverty.

“Ministers need to focus on removing the barriers that prevent equal access to work, not on slashing the benefits system and making disabled people even poorer.”

The report is based on interviews with 18,000 adults aged 16 and over – with and without impairments – between June 2009 and March 2010. A full report will be published next autumn.

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