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More disabled people “very worried” about COVID effect on their life, ONS figures reveal

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New ONS figures have revealed that disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to report being “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the effect that the coronavirus was having on their life.

Figures show that 75% of disabled people were in comparison to 66% of non-disabled people.

This is the third in an ongoing ONS series analysing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the lives of disabled people in Great Britain.

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For the first time, it includes insights from qualitative research commissioned by the Cabinet Office Disability Unit, conducted by Policy Lab.

Findings show that in July 2020, a time at which numerous lockdown restrictions were being lifted in different parts of GB, 24% of disabled people were most concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their well-being, compared with 13% of non-disabled people.

Disabled people were more likely than non-disabled people to report that the pandemic is affecting their well-being because it makes their mental health worse (46% compared with 18% for non-disabled people), they are feeling lonely (42% and 29%), they spend too much time alone (36% and 25%), they feel like a burden on others (25% and 8%), or have no one to talk to about their worries (17% and 10%).

As lockdown restrictions continued to ease in some parts of the country, disabled people were more likely to leave their homes for medical needs or to provide care than non-disabled people: 19% compared with 7%.

They were less likely than non-disabled people to leave home to eat or a drink at a restaurant, café, bar or pub: 8% compared with 14 % of non-disabled people at this time.

37% of disabled people reported they had not met up with other people to socialise this week, a higher proportion than that reported by non-disabled people (29%).

Feeling unsafe when outside their home because of the COVID-19 outbreak may have contributed to this finding, 9% of disabled adults reported this compared with 3% of non-disabled people.

13% of disabled people were most concerned about their access to healthcare and treatment, compared with only 3% of non-disabled people.

Around a quarter (25%) of disabled people who were receiving medical care before the pandemic indicated they were currently receiving treatment for only some of their conditions. This compared with 7% of non-disabled people reporting a similar situation.

Commenting on the findings, David Ainslie from the Office for National Statistics said: “This is our third look at how the pandemic is affecting an estimated 13.7m disabled people. We recognise that everyone’s experience is different, and the term ‘disabled’ is a very broad one.

“Nevertheless, at a time in which lockdown restrictions began to ease in parts of the UK, disabled adults’ experience was different from that of the wider population. Their concerns about well-being and accessing healthcare were higher than among non-disabled people. We saw differences too, in behaviours. Disabled people were more likely to go out to attend medical appointments or take care of others than non-disabled people, and less likely to be socialising and eating out.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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