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The Activity Trap: two years on

In October 2018, we released The Activity Trap: Disabled people’s fear of being active. The report commissioned by Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) highlighted an ongoing concern. It explored the fear among disabled people of losing benefits if seen to be active. Activity Alliance and partners have spent the last two years working collaboratively to minimise the impact of the activity trap.

Activity Trap

In October 2018, we released The Activity Trap: Disabled people’s fear of being active. The report commissioned by Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) highlighted an ongoing concern. It explored the fear among disabled people of losing benefits if seen to be active. Activity Alliance and partners have spent the last two years working collaboratively to minimise the impact of the activity trap.

The project was borne from discussion with disabled people. There was growing concern for the fear among disabled people, that they may lose benefits if they are seen to be active. The research confirmed the suspicions.

Almost half (47%) of the disabled people who took part agreed that a fear of losing benefits was a barrier to them being more active. 65% also stated that they rely on benefits to help them be active.

The recommendations fell into three broad groups:

  • Policy and the benefits process
  • Guidance and support for disabled people
  • Attitudes and perceptions among disabled and non-disabled people

Partners, including Disability Rights UK, are continually looking at collaborative work that can strengthen this insight and break down barriers.

There are ongoing discussions with Public Health England and Sport England around their Moving Healthcare Professional programme. This programme is designed to help healthcare professionals have conversations about physical activity with patients. The Activity Trap provided the evidence that trusted health workforce can use their influence to support more disabled people to feel confident about being active.

The impact of Covid-19 on our healthcare and social care systems has meant a delay in some programmes. Many have either been paused or changed to alternative delivery methods. This will undoubtedly impact disabled people’s activity levels.

Almost a third of disabled people (27%) say coronavirus (Covid-19) has reduced their ability to be active to a great extent. This is compared to 13% of non-disabled people.

Recently, Activity Alliance developed an overview of Covid-19 findings from the range of secondary resources. This gives a sense of the impact on and barriers to activity for disabled people. They also give an idea of what challenges we as a collaborative movement in sport and leisure may face in the future. You can access the Covid-19 insight overview here.

In addition, the pandemic has also had impact on disabled people’s finances. We know that 3.5 million working age disabled people are receiving benefits [1]. A disabled working-age adult more than twice as likely to be in poverty than a non-disabled adult.[2]

The financial impact so far shows:

  • 95% of disabled people have seen an increase in their costs as a result of the pandemic (Disability Benefits Consortium, April 2020)
  • A quarter of disabled people are worried about losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic
  • Facing further financial challenges, many disabled people are becoming more concerned about risks of losing financial support

Activity Alliance and partners want to minimise the long-term impact of coronavirus on activity. Together, we want to ensure that the activity trap does not become more prevalent.

On 17 November, we are hosting an online event to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people’s activity levels. More details will follow.

We are making progress but there is significant work to do. We are determined to encourage a system that supports all disabled people to be active.

[1] Office for National Statistics[2] 2017/18; The price Tag of Disability