More needs to be done to improve the lives of the 10m Britons affected by disability, according to a new report.
The report from the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit found that disabled people fare less well in society compared to non-disabled people.
The Strategy Unit was asked to provide supporting analysis and a strategic assessment of disabled people's life chances - the opportunities available to disabled people, both children and adults, to improve their quality of life.
Almost 20 per cent of the UK's working age population are affected by disability, according to the study. Over half of families with disabled children live in or on the margins of poverty.
Minister for Disabled People Maria Eagle said the scale of the issue means it is vital major changes are identified.
"This work will promote a greater understanding of disability and provide practical solutions to ensure a more positive experience and understanding of disability in our society," she said.
The aim of the project is to identify practical ways to remove barriers and improve outcomes for disabled people. It aims to explore disabled people's 'life chances' and will make policy recommendations to government.
The Minister encouraged all interested parties to respond to the issues raised in the Analytical Report 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People'. The responses will feed into the final report due to be presented to the Government in autumn 2004.
The definition of a 'disabled' person includes a person with mental health conditions, long-term illness, learning difficulties and the effects brought on by old age.