Report: Coronavirus & the social impacts on disabled people

1.Main points

  • In July 2020, around three-quarters of disabled people (75%) reported they were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life (66% for non-disabled people); this is similar to May 2020 when nearly 74% of disabled people reported this.
  • Of the worries they had in July 2020, almost one-quarter of disabled people were most concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on their well-being (24%) (13% for non-disabled people); next most frequently, 13% of disabled people reported being most concerned about access to healthcare and treatment (compared with 3% of non-disabled people).
  • Around one-quarter (25%) of disabled people who were receiving medical care before the coronavirus pandemic indicated they were currently receiving treatment for only some of their conditions (compared with less than 1 in 10 (7%) non-disabled people who had a physical or mental health condition or illness and were receiving care before the pandemic).
  • All well-being ratings of disabled people remain poorer in July 2020 compared with a similar period prior to the coronavirus pandemic; 45% of disabled people reported high anxiety (a score of 6 out of 10 or higher) in this period, a similar level to May 2020 (42%).
  • In July 2020, disabled people reported more frequently than non-disabled people that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their well-being because it makes their mental health worse (46% for disabled people and 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%).
  • Disabled people were more likely to report leaving their homes for medical needs or to provide care or help to a vulnerable person (19%) than non-disabled people (7%) but less likely to report leaving their home to eat or a drink at a restaurant, café, bar or pub (8% of disabled people, 14 % of non-disabled people), travel to work (21% of disabled people, 39% of non-disabled people), or to take children to and from school (5% of disabled people, 11% of non-disabled people).
  • In July 2020, around 4 in 10 disabled people (37%) reported they had not met up with other people to socialise this week, a higher proportion than reported by non-disabled people (29%).
  • In July 2020, around 1 in 10 disabled people (9%) indicated feeling very unsafe when outside their home because of the coronavirus pandemic, compared with less than 1 in 25 non-disabled people (3%).

Statistician’s comment

“This is our third look at how the pandemic is affecting an estimated 13.7 million 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 were, and less likely to be socialising and eating out.”

David Ainslie, Principal Research Officer, Office for National Statistics

To read the rest of the report, visit the report’s page on the ONS website – content are as follows:

  • Understanding the impact of the coronavirus on disabled people
  • Disabled people’s concerns during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Disabled people’s access to healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Disabled people’s well-being during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Disabled people’s experience of leaving home and socialising during the coronavirus pandemic