Skip to content
GSS > Policy and guidance hub > Measuring disability for the Equality Act 2010 harmonisation guidance

Measuring disability for the Equality Act 2010 harmonisation guidance

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:25 June 2019
Author:Caroline Smith
Approver:William Perks
Who this is for:Users and producers of statistics
Type:Harmonisation guidance and principles


The following guidance sets out how to collect and report information about disability to ensure statistics about this topic are as comparable as possible across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

This guidance sets out how to measure disability on social surveys and administrative sources. It is based on the criteria used by different organisations or legislation to classify a person as disabled. These harmonised principles have been developed through consultation and workshops with key stakeholders including the devolved administrations.

Responses to the two harmonised principles on Long-Lasting Health Conditions and Illnesses and Activity Restriction are combined to determine if a person is classified as disabled. Combining these two harmonised principles  ensures the core population of currently disabled people is estimated for the Equality Act.

This population is classified on the basis of having a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities. The information collected on impairment can be used alongside this classification to provide breakdowns by impairment type.

This section provides guidance on the survey questions to use when collecting information about disability. These questions have been designed to harmonise the collection of data across surveys.

Question Response options
Do you have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last 12 months or more? Yes
Does your condition or illness\do any of your conditions or illnesses reduce your ability to carry-out day-to-day activities? Yes, a lot
Yes, a little

This section provides guidance on how to display your outputs.

  Nominal Scale
Disabled Numeric 1
Not Disabled Numeric 2

The harmonised questions and the classifications which are derived  from them do not systematically include the non-core population of disabled people, covered in the Equality Act 2010. This group encompasses:

  1. those with a progressive condition specified in the Act (namely HIV/AIDS, Cancer or Multiple Sclerosis) whether or not the condition has a substantial adverse effect carrying-out day-to-day activities
  2. those who would be restricted without medication or treatment
  3. those that have been restricted in the past but are no longer restricted

These groups were excluded from the harmonised principles for the following reasons:

  1. the problems associated with capturing valid data on the three specified progressive conditions found in cognitive testing and in field testing for the Life Opportunities Survey
  2. the  high additional costs and added interview burden associated with adding an additional three elements across general social survey sources
  3. the questions capturing these non-core elements of the Equality Act will be maintained in the Family Resources Survey allowing continuity in population prevalence estimates to be maintained using these sources.

This group (1 to 3 above) will be included depending on how they respond to the long-lasting health condition and illness and activity restriction questions only.

Labels on data sources vary – the coverage is explained below. How the responses are routed is as above in all cases.

Equality Act 2010 Applies to Great Britain only
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Applies in Northern Ireland, replaced by Equality Act 2010 in Great Britain
Harmonised principle Can apply to any geography



We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce disability statistics, or are interested in comparing them, get in touch:

Review frequency:

This page will be reviewed annually.


Date Changes
25 June 2019

This document was updated to include explanation of how to use the questions– there is no change in measurement. This replaced the archived statistical measures of disability principle.

  • If you would like us to get in touch with you then please leave your contact details or email directly.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.