'Half of people living in poverty in UK affected by disability'
Almost half of people in poverty are disabled or live in a household with a disabled person, according to new research.
A report by the New Policy Institute found that such households make up 48% of the people living in poverty in the UK.
Meanwhile, almost one in five disabled people are unable to afford multiple basic items like household bills or the cost of adequately heating their home.
The report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found there are just shy of four million disabled people living in poverty in the UK while a further 2.7 million non-disabled people in poverty live with someone who is disabled.
It also found that disabled people are much more likely to be in poverty than non-disabled people.
Adam Tinson, senior researcher at the New Policy Institute, said: "These findings confirm that disabled people must be at the centre of attempts to reduce poverty in the UK.
"Not only is disability a feature of nearly half of the households in poverty, but there is a range of other disadvantages in the labour market and participation in life for disabled people.
"If the Government is serious about improving people's life chances, it must tackle poverty for disabled people, and it must do it in conjunction with disabled people themselves."
The report highlights apparent regional disparities in terms of employment opportunities for the disabled.
For example, in regions like Northern Ireland and the North East, disabled people are much less likely to be in work than in other areas.
The report calls for such regional differences in employment to be addressed and for the adequacy of existing benefits to be reviewed.
Helen Barnard, head of analysis at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "It is unacceptable that nearly one in five disabled people is unable to afford the basic essentials that we all need to live a decent life."
Meanwhile, Anna Bird, group head of policy at disability charity Scope, said disabled people and their families face extra costs of up to £550 per month.
"These costs make it harder for disabled people to save and means they are more likely to fall into debt," she said.
"Benefits such as Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment play an important role in helping disabled people to meet these costs. It is vital that government continues to protect the value of these payments."