Government disability survey deemed ‘degrading’ and ‘insulting’ in reference to relationship question alongside continual errors

A key disability survey released by the UK Government is being criticised with calls for the survey to be removed by campaigners and the disabled community.

A question from the survey Credit: UK Government

In January we reported on a survey being released in order to help Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s upcoming National Strategy for Disabled People, which called on the disabled community to share their views.

Covering topics including employment opportunities to the public’s attitudes towards disability, this was seen as a chance for disabled people to have their voices heard.

However, appropriateness of the questions, format and even accessibility of the survey have since been called into question. 


The government’s Disability Unit is being put in the spotlight, after one of the questions in the survey used to shape the strategy asks respondents: “Do you agree or disagree that you would be happy to have a physical relationship with a disabled person?”

People have called on the appropriateness of the questions, citing that many of the questions don’t relate to disability in a meaningful manner and are unable to highlight the real, lived experience of disabled people in the UK.

Responses to the aforementioned statement include strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree or disagree, agree, strongly agree and I don’t know.

The emoticons on the survey are also mismatched, with a smiley face used in the disagree box and a sad face placed in the agree box. In some cases a smiley emoji has been used in a response for ‘quite difficult’. 

Disability groups have further found these errors and incorrect pairings in 30 of the 62 questions on an Easy Read form. The survey can be printed out, but at 54-pages long it is incredibly inaccessible to some users.

A how-to guide on responding in the survey is also not available until the end of the lengthy questionnaire.


Initial promotional material for the survey Credit: UK Government

It is evident, that although this survey was set up to support the National Strategy for Disabled People, there is a lot to be desired.

To date, more than 14,000 disabled people have responded to the survey with many more writing letters to ministers and disability organisations. 

You can sign the petition to withdraw the survey here.

Now, 115 disability groups, including the NFBUK and Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF), have united to protest the survey and ask for it to be removed in a petition to Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work.

The NFBUK and BDEF have also posted an online petition, which will be submitted on 15 March 2021.

Similarly, if you would like to sign the petition please email or to Sarah Gayton, NFBUK to or you can text 07903 155858 with a YES, your name and your organisations names by the 14 March 2021.

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