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Disability in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

A disability can present itself in a range of forms, from a physical impairment to a mental or learning disability. However, the way in which one defines or characterizes a disability is open for debate, as what one individual views as a disability may not necessarily hold true for other individuals with a similar impairment.

As of 2019, around one-fifth of individuals in the United Kingdom had a disability, with the number reaching 28 percent in the North East of England. A disability does not discriminate based on gender or age, however, older individuals are more likely to suffer from a physical disability due to the effects of aging. Mobility impairment affects the largest share of individuals registered with a disability, followed by problems with stamina, breathing and fatigue, which have an impact on an individual’s quality of life. Unfortunately in this day and age, stigma surrounding a disability still exists. According to a survey conducted in 2017, 75 percent of individuals with autism/Asperger syndrome were bullied, followed by 70 percent of individuals with a physical disability and 52 percent of individuals with a learning disability.

In the UK there are 738 enterprises dedicated to residential care activities for learning disabilities, mental health and substance abuse. Annual purchases in this division fell from previous years to 219 million British pounds in 2018. In this case, purchases refer to goods, materials and services for dedicated residential care activities. Capital expenditure in residential care activities for the elderly and disabled also fell, from 903 million British pounds in 2014 to 580 million British pounds in 2018. Additionally, government spending on disability living allowance has decreased over the same period to an expenditure of 7.3 billion British pounds in 2019/20.

Discrepancies still exist between services provided for disabled individuals and disability access. Access to public transport services has been increasing annually since 2004, with 98 percent of buses ensuring disability access in 2018. In Great Britain, access to disability-friendly facilities in gyms and sports clubs did not necessarily prevent individuals from participating in sport. The number of disabled individuals participating in sport has remained relatively stable over the past 10 years, with a high of 1.7 million in October 2012 and 1.73 million in October 2013, also following the success of the London Paralympic games held from August to October 2012.

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