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Child poverty causes disability and disability causes child poverty

employment, health, jobs, poverty, public services, social care, welfare

Published date:  19 Mar 2007

There is a ‘two-way relationship’ between poverty and disability among Britain’s children, according to new research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) published today (Mon). The report warns that if the Government is going to end child poverty by 2020, Gordon Brown will need to do more to help disabled children and parents in his Budget this week (Weds).

There is a ‘two-way relationship’ between poverty and disability among Britain’s children, according to new research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) published today (Mon). The report warns that if the Government is going to end child poverty by 2020, Gordon Brown will need to do more to help disabled children and parents in his Budget this week (Weds).

The report predicts that by 2020, a majority of people in their 50s will be disabled or self-report long term health problems (up to 58 per cent in 2020 compared with 43 per cent in 2004). The report projects a moderate decrease among people in their 20s (because of demographic population changes) and a moderate increase among people in their 30s and 40s by 2020.

The report shows that persistent poverty during childhood significantly limits people’s life chances and shows that there are more households in poverty with disabled children than without. The report says the Disability Living Allowance needs to be available to all disabled children and taken up by more families that experience the extra costs of raising a child with a disability

  • The most recently available data shows that 29 per cent of households with one or more disabled children lived in poverty, compared with 21 per cent of households with no disabled children.
  • There are around 9.8 million disabled adults and an estimated 700,000 disabled children in the UK.If the same rate of increase that occurred between 1975 and 2002 were to occur between 2002 and 2029, there would be over 1.25 million children reporting a disability by 2029.

The report says that the rise in the number of children and young people reporting a disability appears to have been driven in part by a significant increase in the prevalence of particular types of impairment:

  • mental health problems
  • autistic spectrum disorders
  • emotional and behavioural disorders.

The report says it is difficult to measure the extent to which the increase is down to improved diagnosis, and the extent to which it represents an actual increase in prevalence. But the report does conclude that the number of children with complex needs has risen as a result of the increased survival rates among pre-term babies and children who experience severe trauma or illness. With increasing numbers of children surviving infancy thanks to advances in medical science, the report predicts many more will live longer lives with complex needs.

Kate Stanley, ippr Associate Director said:

“There is a two-way relationship between disability and poverty in childhood. Disabled children are among the most likely to experience poverty and poor children are more likely to be become disabled than those who are better off. There needs to be a transformation in the quality and accessibility of services for disabled children, young people and their families.

“Rises in the number of children reporting disabilities will continue and more people with mental health problems and complex disabilities are likely to suffer discrimination and exclusion from full citizenship. There are also worrying increases in childhood obesity can lead to disability.”

The report recommends:

  • The development of more ‘needs-led’ public services to promote independent living
  • Greater opportunities for social and civic participation by disabled people
  • More efforts to promote employment opportunities for disabled people
  • Additional efforts to tackle health inequalities
  • Promoting a better understanding of disability across society.

Notes to Editors

Disability 2020: Opportunities for the full and equal citizenship of disabled people in Britain in 2020 by Rachel Pillai, Jennifer Rankin and Kate Stanleyis available from www.ippr.org

Levels of obesity in children aged two to 10 years rose from 9.9 per cent to 13.4 per cent between 1995 and 2004, according to the Health Survey for England. The British Heart Foundation predict that over 1.7 million children in England will be obese by 2010.

Contact:

Richard Darlington, ippr media manager, 020 7470 6177 / 07738 320 645 / r.darlington@ippr.org

Matt Jackson, ippr senior media officer, 020 7339 0007 / 07753 719 289 / m.jackson@ippr.org