Disability Rights UK Newsletter

The Disability Rights UK Newsletter is an excellent source of news and comment on the lives of people with disabilities living in the UK. Here’s the latest edition, dated 26 June:

End of lockdown: one size fits all approach fails shielders

Government plans to relax rules for shielders, including many disabled people and people with chronic health conditions, remove almost all of the key protective measures which have been in place since March.

A series of measures designed to reopen society will come into play for shielders from early July with another set in early August seeing the removal of vital practical and financial support, including Statutory Sick Pay for those shielding because of the virus, and food and medicine delivery services.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “On the 1 August people are being forced to choose between their life and their livelihood. This isn’t right.”

Read the full story and guidance on our website.

Disabled man dies due to lack of food during lockdown

A disabled man has died during the Coronavirus lockdown because he couldn’t access food supplies.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham, London, told the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee of her constituent’s plight while seeking the opinions of leading disability charities, including Disability Rights UK, about the government’s “reluctance” to expand its list of clinically vulnerable people, despite reports of people with disabilities struggling to get food through supermarket priority delivery slots.

DR UK’s Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi said that there has been “cynicism and a suspicion that people are somehow trying to work the system by somehow declaring a vulnerability”.

“I think it’s been (an) appalling catalogue, I understand why there was a disaster in the first couple of weeks, but I do not understand why the supermarkets are failing to take responsibility for their own disabled customers.”

Read more on our website.

‘Abandoned, forgotten and ignored’ – report shows Coronavirus’ impact on disabled people

Inclusion London has launched its interim report based on hundreds of responses to its Social Care survey.

The report paints a stark picture, according to the pan-London DPO:

“From the outset, disabled people have been discriminated against, forgotten, and in some cases abandoned as policymakers have ignored our needs. Or, at best considered us as an afterthought.

“During the pandemic disabled people saw our legal rights diminished, we experienced resource rationing and blanket policies.  This led to many of us struggling to get bare necessities, losing support and independence and living in fear for our lives.

“The pandemic has shone a light on the long-standing structural inequalities and discrimination that deaf and disabled people experience. The dreadful disparities are reflected in the grim data released by the Office for National Statistics, which says disabled people were about twice as likely to die from Covid-19.

“Despite the shocking statistics, the plight of disabled people was largely missing from public discourse. We are publishing this report to give voice to people who shared their experience with us.”

Fazilet Hadi DRUK’s Head of Policy said:

“This is a depressing account of the struggles and discrimination disabled people have faced during the coronavirus crisis and shows how far away we are from equality.

We need government and wider society,  to ensure that recovery planning is fully inclusive of disabled people.”

Read more on our website.

BBC commits to TV diversity from April 2021

The BBC has pledged a £100m budget to increasing diversity on TV over a three year period from April 2021.

The BBC has set itself a mandatory target – 20% of off-screen talent must come from under-represented groups.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “This is a good first step. Disabled people should be visible on primetime as much as through specialist channels such as the BBC’s Ouch! output.

“We want to see proportional representation, akin to that which women, and the BAME and LGBTQ groups have received. We would call on the BBC to explain why it has put in place such an unambitious figure for disabled people.”

Read more on our website.

Raise the rates of legacy benefits not just Universal Credit, say MPs

Rates of ESA and other ‘legacy benefits’  must be raised to provide help for those not yet moved to Universal Credit (UC) and who are struggling to meet the extra inescapable costs imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Work and Pensions Committee of MPs has said.

While the Government has raised the rates of standard UC and basic Working Tax Credit by £20 a week for 12 months, people on benefits yet to be replaced by UC, including JSA, ESA and Child Tax Credit, have not been similarly helped, with the DWP blaming computer difficulties for the disparity.

Read more on our website.

Disabled people locked out of digital streaming services

Missing out on the latest film or TV series is not just about missing out on the content. It’s about being excluded from the wider conversation.

Research by Scope’s digital influencing programme, The Big Hack, suggests disabled people are being locked out of the video on-demand streaming revolution because of poor accessibility.

A survey of more than 3,300 disabled people reveals four in five disabled people experience accessibility issues with video on-demand services. And more than two in three disabled people feel frustrated, let down, excluded or upset by inaccessible video streaming services.

One in five disabled people have cancelled their subscription or stopped using a streaming service because of accessibility issues.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick, who sits on The Big Hack’s advisory board said: “streaming services need to step up and realise that over a fifth of our population is disabled and deserves parity of experience with non-disabled people. We should have the same rights to watercooler moments dissecting the latest must-see programmes as the rest of the population.”

The Big Hack has launched The Inclusive League Table to compare the most popular UK video streaming services and the services they provide for their disabled customers. The table takes into account both the web accessibility standards of each streaming service and the percentage of accessible content available. As part of their campaign, Big Hack has created a guide for disabled viewers to compare the most popular on-demand services and find out which ones best suit their access needs.

Scope requested up-to-date figures from each service provider with the percentage of video content available in their catalogue with audio description and closed captions. Whereas some service providers came back quickly with their figures, others could not disclose how much of their content was currently available with access services.

Have you been able to access medical care and treatment during lockdown?

Disability Rights UK would like to know how you have found obtaining medical treatment not related to Coronavirus during lockdown. The survey is completely anonymous, and we may share the findings with third parties. If you would like to share your experiences with us, please complete the survey by midday on Wednesday 1 July. We would invite disability organisations to share this survey with their contacts.

Take the survey.

Keep talking to us about Coronavirus

We still want to hear about the experiences of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, their carers and family members, both good and bad, of getting support during the Coronavirus crisis so that we can help out where we can, and learn for the future. We will not record your name or personal details unless you want us to.

In Control and Disability Rights UK have set up a register to record people’s experiences of getting health, social care and treatment for Covid-19 during the time of the pandemic.

Report your experience of getting care or treatment during the Coronavirus crisis.

APPG for Disability on education

The next All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability webinar meeting will take place from 2pm-3pm 9 July 2020 as a joint webinar with the APPG for Education on higher education.

To register your place, email Roberta Kirosingh at KIROSINGHR@parliament.uk.

Co-production webinars for the physical activity sector and disability organisations

DR UK’s Get Yourself Active programme is hosting a number of short 15-20 minute co-production webinars over the next two months aimed at the sport sector as well as other organisations that work with disabled people. The aim of these sessions is to support organisations to understand the basics of co-production as well as increasing understanding of effectively embedding co-production in practice.

We’ve already covered a range of topics, from the history of co-production to the benefits and challenges of using co-production approaches in practice. Please visit our webinars page on the Get Yourself Active website to register for upcoming sessions and to watch back on previous ones.

Our webinar next week will be hosted by Helen from Community Catalysts, who will be giving us an overview of the work their organisation does and how this links with co-production.

Register here.

Job opportunity

Breakthrough UK has a vacancy for a Manchester Disability Partnership Strategic Development Lead.

Go to the Breakthrough UK website for more details.

Applications need to be received by 19 July.

Our helplines are operating as normal:

Personal Budgets Helpline

  • Telephone: 0330 995 0404
  • Opening hours: 9.30am -1.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Disabled Students Helpline

  • Telephone: 0330 995 0414
  • Opening hours: 11am-1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Organisational Members Helpline

    • Telephone: 0203 687 0779
    • Opening hours: 10.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 16.00 Tuesdays and Thursdays.