The proportion of disabled people in England and Wales fell sharply in the 10 years between 2011 and 2021, possibly caused – at least partly – by the disproportionate number of disabled people who died during the pandemic.
The fall was particularly marked in those disabled people whose activities were “limited a lot” by their impairment or health condition, with a reduction from 9.2 per cent of females in England to 7.8 per cent, and an even sharper fall from nine per cent to 7.1 per cent of males in England over the 10 years.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released yesterday (Wednesday), were based on the results from the 2021 census.
They show an overall increase in the proportion of the population in England who were non-disabled from 80.4 per cent to 81.3 per cent of females, and a rise from 81.1 per cent to 83.5 per cent of males.
In Wales, where an even higher proportion of deaths linked to COVID-19 were of disabled people, the percentage of disabled people decreased even more sharply between 2011 and 2021.
Again, the fall was even more marked among those who told the census that their activities were “limited a lot” by their impairment or health condition, with a fall from 12.2 per cent to 10.4 per cent of females in Wales, and a drop from 12.2 per cent in 2011 to just 9.5 per cent of males in 2021.
ONS said that one of the contributing factors to the figures could have been the COVID-19 pandemic, with ONS figures showing “that disabled people were at greater risk of death during the pandemic, which could have led to fewer disabled people in the population”.
ONS has previously estimated that about 58 per cent of Covid-related deaths in England between January 2020 and March 2022 were of disabled people, while in Wales about 68 per cent of Covid-related deaths were of disabled people.
But ONS said that other factors could also have played a part in the fall in the proportion of disabled people shown by the census results, including changes to the census disability questions between 2011 and 2021.
The ONS census figures released this week also show striking differences in the proportion of disabled people living in the most deprived areas of England and Wales, compared with the least deprived.
In England, in the most deprived areas, 27.2 per cent of females were disabled, compared with 13.6 per cent in the least deprived areas, while 24.7 per cent of males in the most deprived areas said they were disabled, compared with 11.7 per cent in the least deprived areas.
In Wales, in the most deprived areas, 29.7 per cent of females were disabled, compared with 17.0 per cent in the least deprived areas, while 26.7 per cent of males in the most deprived areas said they were disabled, compared with 14.8 per cent in the least deprived areas.
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