This report looks at the social impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on disabled people in Great Britain. This release uses two waves of survey results covering 24 September to 4 October 2020 and includes indicators broken down by impairment type. Insights from qualitative research commissioned by the Cabinet Office Disability Unit and conducted by Policy Lab with disabled people help illustrate how the survey indicators can be experienced by disabled people in day-to-day life.
- Over 8 in 10 (83%) disabled people compared with around 7 in 10 (71%) non-disabled people said they were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was having on their life in September 2020; for disabled people, but not for non-disabled people, this is a similar level to that reported earlier in the pandemic (86% and 84% respectively in April 2020).
- Being in a local lockdown area or not did not seem to have affected the level of worry (“very worried” or “somewhat worried”) reported by disabled people in September 2020, with similar levels reported by disabled people in a local lockdown area (81%) compared with those who were not (84%).
- Around 5 in 10 (50%) disabled people who were receiving medical care before the coronavirus pandemic began, indicated that they were either currently receiving treatment for only some of their conditions (29%), or that their treatment had been cancelled or not started (22%), compared with less than 3 in 10 (27%) of non-disabled people who had a physical or mental health condition or illness and were receiving care before the pandemic.
- Over 4 in 10 (45%) of those disabled people who had reported receiving a reduced level of treatment or had their treatment cancelled in September 2020 reported that they felt their health had worsened in this time; in July 2020 this proportion was one-quarter (25%).
- All well-being ratings of disabled people remained poorer in September 2020 compared with a similar period prior to the coronavirus pandemic; almost half (47%) of disabled people reported high anxiety (a score of 6 out of 10 or higher) in September 2020 compared with less than a third (29%) of non-disabled people.
- Disabled people reported more frequently than non-disabled people in September 2020 that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their well-being because it makes their mental health worse (41% for disabled people and 20% for non-disabled people), they are feeling lonely (45% and 32%), they spend too much time alone (40% and 29%), they feel like a burden on others (24% and 8%), or have no-one to talk to about their worries (24% and 12%).
- Worries about the future is amongst the most frequently cited ways well-being has been affected for both disabled (68%) and non-disabled people (64%) in September 2020; however, disabled people were less optimistic about the future than non-disabled people, with 1 in 10 (11%) of disabled people thinking life will never return to normal compared with only 1 in 20 (5%) of non-disabled people.
- A larger proportion of disabled people (83%) than non-disabled people (77%) supported “strict” or “very strict” enforcement by police of government rules aimed at combatting the coronavirus such as social distancing; disabled people were less likely to socialise within large groups than non-disabled people; only 5% of disabled people mixed with groups exceeding five (from outside their household), compared with 9% of non-disabled people.
“Our analysis from September shows that as many disabled people were worried about the impacts of the pandemic on their lives as had been the case in April.
“A particular issue for disabled people was the impact on their health among those who were not receiving the same level of medical care as they had before the pandemic. This was a different picture from the experience of non-disabled people during the coronavirus pandemic.”
David Ainslie, Principal Research Officer, Office for National Statistics