Fact and Figures

Children and disability

  • The figures have been taken from the most recent and up to date surveys and research reports.
  • In 2012/13, 7% (or 0.9 million) of children under the age of 16 in the UK were disabled. Disabled children aged 0 –16 are the fastest growing group among the population of disabled people.
  • There are around 25,000 blind or partially sighted children between the ages of 0–16. Around half have additional disabilities and/or special educational needs.
  • There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK, plus many more who experience temporary hearing loss. Around half of all deaf children are born deaf, and the remaining half acquires deafness during childhood.
  • The annual cost of bringing up a disabled child is 3 times greater than that of bringing up a non-disabled child.
  • 40% of disabled children in the UK live in poverty. This accounts for around 320,000 disabled children, and almost a third of those are classified as living in ‘severe poverty’.
  • Households affected by disability are more likely to not be working, or working fewer hours. The level of worklessness is much higher for households with disabled children, with 38% of disabled children living in workless households, compared to 16% of all children.
  • 84% of mothers of disabled children do not work, compared with 39% of mothers of non-disabled children. Only 3% of mothers of disabled children work full time and 13% work part time.
  • 99.1% of disabled children live at home and are supported by their families, and only 1 in 13 disabled children receive a regular support service of any sort from their Local Authority.
  • According to a Contact a Family survey in 2012, 1 in 6 families (17%) with disabled children go without food, 1 in 5 (21%) go without heating, 1 in 4 (26%) go without specialist equipment or adaptations, and 86% go without leisure activities.
  • Research by Contact a Family shows that 65% of families caring for disabled children reported feeling isolated frequently or all of the time – over half (56%) felt that the cause of their isolation was due to a lack of support from statutory services, such as social care and education services.
  • In 2014, a Scope report revealed that 69% of parents with disabled children have difficulty accessing local services for their children, and 90% were worried about cuts to the local services that they need.
  • It is estimated that around 748,000 children and young people aged 5 to 16 in Great Britain have a cognitive impairment or mental ill health. Around 78,000 of these have autistic spectrum disorders, around 132,000 have a learning disability, and 51,000 have mental ill health.
  • Children with a learning disability are often socially excluded and 8 out of 10 children with a learning disability.

Future trends

  • It is widely anticipated that the proportion of children and young people who are disabled will increase. It is estimated that there will be over 1.25 million children reporting a disability by 2029. The reasons include improved diagnosis, reduced stigma in reporting disability, and better survival rates for pre-term infants.
  • It is estimated that there will be 450,000 children and young people (aged 0–19) with learning disabilities in the UK by 2031, a 10% increase from 410,000 in 2011.