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Census 2021 deep dive: disability and deprivation in London

Author: Marc Brazzill

The Census 2021 provides us with the most comprehensive and up to date picture of London’s population. This is our second in a series of interactive maps and deep dives exploring what the data shows us about London’s populations and deprivation. Here WPI Economics’ Marc Brazzill looks at the link between disability and deprivation.

Disability across London

Across London, 13.2% of people are Disabled (using the definition under the Equality Act 2010). At a borough level, this ranges from 16.2% of the population in Islington to 10.7% in the City of London and 11.4% in Wandsworth. The three boroughs with the highest proportion of people who are Disabled are Islington, Camden (15.2%) and Havering (14.7%).

The census also examined the extent that people’s day-to-day activities are limited by their disability. Looking at the proportion of all people whose day-to-day activities are limited a lot, Islington (7.3%) and Camden (6.7%) remain the two boroughs with the highest proportion, but Havering drops down to the seventh highest proportion. Instead Westminster (6.5%) has the third highest proportion of people whose day-to-day activities are limited a lot, despite having only the 11th highest proportion of Disabled people.

If we consider the data a different way and instead look at people whose day-to-day activities are limited a lot as a proportion of all Disabled people, there is again some disparity across London. In Barking and Dagenham, Westminster and Enfield almost half (47%) of Disabled people’s day-to-day lives are limited a lot. This compares to 37% in Richmond upon Thames - and 31% in the City of London.

What is the relationship between disability and deprivation?

In London overall, families that include a disabled disabled person are more likely to be in poverty than families without a disabled person. The interactive census map also allows us to explore this relationship between deprivation and disability at a neighbourhood level.

The above chart shows that there is a clear trend between the level of deprivation in a neighbourhood and the proportion of the population that is Disabled. Among London’s 10% most deprived neighbourhoods, the average proportion of the population who are Disabled is 15.5%. Only four neighbourhoods in the whole of London have a population of more than 20% Disabled people - all four of these are in the most deprived category. Only two neighbourhoods have a Disabled population of less than 12%. By contrast, in the 10% least deprived neighbourhoods in London, Disabled people make up an average of 11.7% of the population. Some of these neighbourhoods have a Disabled population below 8% - and none of them above 15%.

The extent of a person’s disability also plays a factor in the relationship with deprivation. The trend remains clear when looking at the disabled population whose day-to-day activities are limited a lot. Among London’s least deprived neighbourhoods only two have a disabled population whose day-to-day activities are limited a lot of more than 6%, whereas among the most deprived neighbourhoods, there’s only six who have a population of below 6%. By contrast when looking at the disabled population whose day-to-day activities are limited a little the trend disappears and there is significant overlap in the proportion of the population across all neighbourhoods of all levels of deprivation.

Zooming in on Kensington And Chelsea

It’s also possible to use the interactive census maps to zoom in on individual boroughs to explore more local dimensions of disability and deprivation. If we look at the map of neighbourhoods in Kensington and Chelsea, we can see immediately that the size of the Disabled population varies widely across the borough. The neighbourhoods of Ladbroke Grove (22.1%) and Notting Dale (21.6%) are the two neighbourhoods with highest proportion of disabled people in London, whereas Hans Town (7.0%) and Queen’s Gate (7.1%) are the London neighbourhoods with the second and third smallest proportion of Disabled people respectively.

This wide disparity in Kensington and Chelsea can also be seen when looking at deprivation. The neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of Disabled people - Ladbroke Grove, Notting Dale, Portobello (19.4%) and Golborne and Swinbrook (19.1%) - are the only neighbourhoods in the borough in London’s 10% most deprived neighbourhoods. By contrast, the neighbourhoods with the lowest proportion of Disabled people - Hans Town, Queen’s Gate, South Kensington (7.7%), Kensington Abingdon (7.8%) and Notting Hill South (8.1%) - are the five least deprived neighbourhoods in the borough.

A similar correlation can be seen in many other boroughs across the city. Explore the interactive map to see the link between deprivation and disability in your borough.