Benefits or being fit: Benefits and disabled people’s fear of being seen to be active

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Introduction: Anecdotal evidence from EFDS’ partners has identified a fear among disabled people of losing benefits as a result of being seen to be active. Disabled people are twice as likely as non-disabled people to be inactive but at least seven in 10 would like to do more.

EFDS, on behalf of Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk), undertook a study to examine this fear, with a particular emphasis on experiences of the main disability benefits (PIP, DLA and ESA).

Method: EFDS commissioned FlexMR who employed a mixed-methods approach. An online quantitative survey of 206 disabled people was designed to measure activity levels and particular experiences of benefits as well as recruit for a second stage. Twenty-six of those with physical impairments took part in this qualitative stage and discussed their experiences in depth in an online private ‘diary’ and a question board shared with all participants.

• 65% rely on benefits to be active
• 47% are fearful of losing their benefits if they are more active
• 34% have had, or know someone who has had, benefits removed as a result of being active
• 55% are likely to be more active if benefits couldn’t be taken away

Conclusion: The fear among disabled people that being active could lead
to losing benefits and, therefore, their independence, is a real and quantifiable issue in increasing activity levels. It is essential that broader social
considerations are addressed by those responsible for promoting physical
activity and policy makers more generally.

External funding details: DSAuk and Sport England.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018

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