Report: EU countries fail to reduce poverty of persons with disabilities

We launched the fourth edition of our Human Rights Report which looks at poverty and social exclusion of persons with disabilities in the EU.

We found that 28.7% of persons with disabilities living in the EU are at risk of poverty. This number will likely grow in the aftermath of the pandemic. It highlights how EU countries have largely failed at reducing poverty faced by persons with disabilities, especially in the wake of the financial crisis.

The situation has worsened since 2010 in Estonia, Luxembourg, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Czechia, Lithuania, Italy, Netherlands, Malta and Spain.

In all EU countries, persons with disabilities are more likely to be poor and unemployed than persons without disabilities. They also face extra costs from living in a society that is not adapted to them: disability-related costs estimated at 23,012 euros/year in Sweden or 14,550 euros/year in Belgium.

We urge EU and national decision-makers to follow our recommendations, presented in full at the end of the report.

  • Fully implement the EU Pillar of Social Rights by establishing an action plan that includes proposals for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
  • Follow-up the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 for the coming decade including measures to address poverty and social exclusion of persons with disabilities and their families.
  • Adopt legislation that will protect persons with disabilities against discrimination in all areas of their lives beyond employment.
  • Foster job creation by establishing a Disability Rights Guarantee ensuring an offer of employment, apprenticeships, training or life-long-learning. This can be further supported by person-centred and flexible support to persons with disabilities seeking work, helping them not lose disability allocations when taking up work, as well as setting standards for reasonable accommodation in the workplace and necessary support or assistance.
  • Favour the use of disability assessment methods that follow a CRPD-compliant and holistic approach, looking at a person-centred approach and using a combination of impairment and functional considerations.
  • Invest in the accessibility of all support structures and services provided to the general public to enable persons with disabilities to make use of them, reducing the need to resort to costly, specialised services, thus minimising extra disability-related costs to individuals.

Read all recommendations and deeper analysis in the full report, available in Easy to read.