Disabled people in Wales 'being left behind', report says

Person in wheelchair Image copyright SPL

Disabled people in Wales are being "left behind", according to an anti-discrimination body.

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says, despite legislation to protect disabled people's rights, they are still not being treated as equal citizens.

The EHRC Wales committee wants the Welsh Government to "place a new focus on equality".

The government said it was considering the findings and would respond later.

The report, Being disabled in Britain: A journey less equal, says disabled people have a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment and a "widening disability pay gap".

They also experience problems with accessing transport, health services and housing and have "deteriorating access to justice".

Welfare reforms "significantly affect the already low living standards" of disabled people, it adds.

The report's findings in Wales

  • In 2014/15, only 575 (1.3%) of all apprenticeships were started by disabled learners
  • The proportion of disabled adults in employment remained lower (42.6%) compared with non-disabled people (78.1%) in 2015/16
  • Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the average hourly earnings for disabled employees decreased by 9.2%, while there was no change for non-disabled people
  • In 2014/15, the educational attainment of children with Special Educational Needs was nearly three times lower than for non-disabled children
  • In 2015/16, 21.3% of disabled 25-64 year olds had no qualifications, compared to 7.6% of non-disabled people
  • In 2012/13, poverty rates were higher for disabled adults than non-disabled adults across Britain, with rates in Wales being the highest (Wales 27.5% compared with 21.3%, England 24.0% compared with 17.9%, Scotland 21.4% compared with 17.3%)
  • In 2014, disabled adults were more likely to report poor mental health and wellbeing (44.7%) than non-disabled adults (16.5%)
  • Disability hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales increased by 44% in 2015/16 on the previous year, possibly reflecting improved reporting practices

June Milligan, chairwoman of the EHRC Wales committee, said: "This report shows that disabled people in Wales and across Britain are being left behind. The evidence can no longer be ignored.

"It calls on the UK and Welsh governments to place a new focus on disability equality and to deliver improvements in experiences and outcomes.

"The changes that we need to see include reducing the education and employment gaps for disabled people and increasing the number of disabled people in public appointments and politics."

In a statement, Welsh Government officials said its framework on independent living recognised "the barriers that disabled people experience in their lives".

"These are long-term issues which will not be solved overnight and we are working with disabled people and their organisations to review our framework with the aim of publishing a refreshed action plan later this year," a spokesman added.

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