Business Disability Forum comments on UN visit to evaluate poverty in the UK

05 November 2018

London, UK: The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will be conducting a fact-finding visit to the UK from 6 to 16 November. 

Commenting on the visit, Diane Lightfoot, CEO Business Disability Forum, said:

“We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s visit as an opportunity to raise awareness of the inequalities facing disabled people in the UK.

“Research has repeatedly demonstrated that disabled people are at far greater risk of poverty than those without a disability. At present, over 3 million people are living in hardship as a direct result of having a disability.

“Whilst the causes of poverty are multiple and complex, it is clear that disabled people have a magnified experience of the social causes directly related to poverty. These include under-representation and discrimination in the workplace, limited opportunities to gain qualification and skills-training, an ineffective welfare system, and higher costs of living.

“The huge volume of responses to the Special Rapporteur’s call for evidence show the appetite in the UK for addressing poverty and its causes, so we hope the findings will bring us a step closer to bridging the gap between disabled people and other groups.”

The implications of Brexit on poverty is amongst the issues to be addressed by the Special Rapporteur during his visit.

Diane Lightfoot said:

“Getting into work, getting on in work and even getting to work, are all ever-present barriers to progression out of poverty for many disabled people.

“The Equality Act 2010 protects against unfair discrimination in all these areas. However, we are concerned that vital legislation such as this could be put at risk of suspension by draft measures related to the Brexit transition, such as the Trade Bill, unless adequate safeguards are put in place.

“Otherwise, there is a risk that we could lose years of progress in terms of making career opportunities, offices and transport accessible to disabled people.”

The Special Rapporteur is expected to deliver a report of his findings at the end of his visit.

Diane Lightfoot said:

“We hope the Special Rapporteur’s report will take into consideration the evidence submitted by Business Disability Forum and others, and address the deprivation too often experienced by disabled people in the UK.”

Business Disability Forum was among organisations asked to submit evidence ahead of Special Rapporteur’s visit. You can read Business Disability Forum’s submission in full here.

To coincide with the visit, Business Disability Forum will be publishing a series of blogs looking at how poverty affects disabled people in the UK. You can sign up to the blog series here.




Notes to editors:

1. Business Disability Forum is a not-for-profit member organisation that makes it easier and more rewarding to do business with and employ disabled people. By providing pragmatic support, sharing expertise, giving advice, providing training and facilitating networking opportunities, we help organisations to become fully accessible to disabled customers and employee. Ultimately, our aim is to transform the life chances – and experience – of disabled people as employees and consumers.
We have more than twenty years’ experience of working with public and private sector organisations, formerly as the Employers’ Forum on Disability, where we were instrumental in lobbying for an creating the first meaningful disability legislation in the UK in the shape of the Disability Discrimination Act. Our 300 members now employ around 15% of the UK workforce and range from FTSE 100 companies and central Government departments to transport providers, construction companies, retailers, higher education providers and public services. We also work closely with Government to shape disability policy and to feedback what works – what doesn’t – from our members and partners.

2. For more information, contact Samuel Buckley, Press Officer, by phone on 020 7403 3020 or by emailing