Life Opportunities Survey

The Office for Disability Issues last week published the fascinating Life Opportunities Survey.

The purpose of the survey is to compare how disabled and non-disabled people participate in a number of areas, including work, education, transport and use of public services.

There is a huge amount of incredibly valuable information in this survey across a very wide range of areas. I don’t think I could do it justice without a week in a quiet room and no distractions, so here are just a few employment “highlights”.

  • Half of disabled adults of working age were in work, compared to 76% of non-disabled adults of working age. This gap (26%) actually represents the smallest gap there has been for some time, mainly on account of the fact it represents the lowest employment rate for non-disabled people for some time (and certainly since 2002)
  • 56% of disabled people experienced restrictions in the type of amount of paid work they do, compared to 26% of non-disabled people
  • 29% of disabled adults identified family responsibilities as a reason for being economically inactive (compared to 42% for non-disabled adults). Lack of confidence accounted for 19%, transport difficulties for 11% and employer attituides for 6%
  • 19% of disabled people said some sort of equipment or adaptation would be an enabler of work

For those interested, here are the employment rates for disabled and non-disabled people since 2002 (plus the employment gap):

  • 2002: Disabled employment rate: 44.5%; Non-disabled employment rate: 80.1%; (Gap: 35.6%)
  • 2003: 45.4% – 80.2% (34.8%)
  • 2004: 46.8% – 80.0% (33.2%)
  • 2005: 47.0% – 79.9% (32.9%)
  • 2006: 47.5% – 79.7% (32.2%)
  • 2007: 47.2% – 79.5% (32.3%)
  • 2008: 48.4% – 79.6% (31.2%)
  • 2009: 57.4% – 77.3% (29.9%)

For anyone with any interest in disability, equality or research/stats, you could do much worse than check out the full research report on the ONS website. It’s 269 pages, but nearly every page is a treasure trove of information.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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