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Pandemic takes worse toll on disabled peoples' well-being, new figures suggest

TWO-THIRDS of disabled people claim that their well-being has been affected by the pandemic, according to official figures, prompting calls for more government support. 

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that the lives of disabled people have been affected by the pandemic more than those without disabilities, including access to healthcare, medication and essentials. 

The toll on mental health was also greater for people with disabilities. Of those who reported that their well-being had been affected, almost half said that the coronavirus was also making their mental health worse, compared with 29 per cent for people without disabilities. 

Well-being measures such as life satisfaction, feeling that things done in life are worthwhile and happiness and anxiety all scored lower on average among disabled respondents. 

A quarter reported feeling like a burden on others compared with 10 per cent of non-disabled people, while almost half — 49 per cent — said that they were lonely. By comparison, 37 per cent of people without disabilities reported feeling lonely. 

The ONS questioned 12,856 people, including more than 3,000 disabled respondents, in three waves in February to assess the social impact of the pandemic on British society. 

A person was considered to be disabled if they reported a long-standing illness, condition or impairment that reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

When compared with September, both disabled and non-disabled people increasingly reported feeling bored, spending too much time with others in the house and being unable to exercise as normal.

Charity Scope said that it fears that pressures on disabled people could increase when support for those shielding stops. 

The charity’s campaigns and mobilisation manager Jessica Leigh said: “It’s clear that the pandemic continues to take a painful toll on the lives of disabled people, who have felt forgotten. 

“Many disabled people have spent a year indoors, cut off from loved ones and vital support.

“We fear that these pressures will only ramp up as the little protection shielding offered has stopped. 

“As we move out of lockdown, the government needs to make sure disabled people can get all the support they need to protect their lives, well-being and livelihoods.”

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