Disability Rights UK Newsletter

Here’s the latest e-newsletter from Disability Rights UK – as ever it’s an excellent selection of topical and useful info:

Damning Report on Government’s Record on Social Care

The Public Accounts Committee has produced a highly critical report on the government’s approach to social care during the coronavirus crisis. The Committee found that inadequate funding and delayed reform was compounded by lack of PPE, testing and changing guidance, which all contributed to a tragic loss of life.

Fazilet Hadi, DR UK’s Head of Policy said “These findings from a highly influential parliamentary committee, reinforce the strong view that social care was not given the priority it should have had during the crisis. For the first few critical weeks it received little support, with all government attention focused on the NHS. The Social Care Action Plan was only produced on 15 April following the peak of deaths.”

“We are in danger of the same mistakes being made again. The recent government announcement on extra funding for the NHS this winter, made no mention of social care, despite local government making it clear that there is a major funding gap.”

You can read more on this on the Independent website.

Children with Special Education Needs and Disability Abandoned by Schools during Lockdown

Coronavirus and SEND Education: 75% of schools ignored Government risk assessment guidance during the lockdown.

A new report shows the extent to which children with Education, Health and Care Plans and their families have been neglected during the coronavirus crisis. Instead of risk assessment being used to support children to receive education, they were used to prevent children returning to school.

Read more on our website.

Shielders Returning to Work Could Face Unacceptable Risk

As government support for shielding comes to an end, there are about 600,000 people considered clinically vulnerable who would, in normal circumstances, be at work, according to the ONS (all these numbers are approximate). About 218,000 shielders were furloughed at the end of June, 189,000 of whom reported they could not do their job from home. 96,000 have stopped working entirely, and another 30,000 are on the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. Just over a third of normally working shielders have reported being able to work from home, and 47,000 reported they were working outside the home. Many people who are shielding may not have jobs to go back to, as many sectors, particularly tourism and hospitality, are doing far less business than usual. 57% of normally working shieldings report they cannot meet their financial obligations if they stop working. If the furlough scheme and other support for shielding ends, many will be forced to return to a job that may needlessly increase their risk of contracting COVID-19.

Disability Rights UK’s Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi, said “The government’s one size fits all approach to stopping shielding could leave some people with no option but to return to unsafe public transport and work places, which put them at an unacceptably high risk of catching the virus. At a time when the reproduction rate is increasing across Europe, the government should be doing more to support and protect those most at risk”.

Disabled People feel they are being treated unfairly by the NHS

Disability Rights UK surveyed 195 people in late June and early July on their experience accessing medical treatment during the pandemic. 191 respondents reported having a disability or long term health condition, 80% of whom reported delays to their treatment as a result of the pandemic.

Read more on our website.

Equality & Human Rights Commission Signs Agreement with Train Operator to Improve Disabled Access

The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has signed an agreement with train operator LNER to improve service for disabled passengers. The agreement follows EHRC funded legal action against LNER on behalf of a visually impaired customer.

Disability Rights UK Ambassador and Rail Sector Champion, Stephen Brookes, said, “This case shows clearly that all Train Operating Companies must always keep their collective eyes on the ball about a range of disability matters, or rightly face legal challenges and penalties.

“Hidden disabilities, sensory issues and mental health conditions have a massive impact on journey experiences, so rail companies need to engage far more constructively with a wide range of disabled people, which means less confrontation and costly legal action and creates more cohesion.”

Stephen continued, “We do know that those operators who have dedicated pan disability user groups, and have involved disabled people in staff training, do look more successfully at awareness and inclusion over range of matters. It is important to avoid accidentally viewing the access needs of ramps and wheelchair spaces as providing the total solution to access requirements.”

Read more about this story on the EHRC website.

NHS Communication Methods Should Support Disabled People

Qualitative research on patients receiving remote consultations has found a wide range of customer experiences. The research was conducted by National VoicesTraverse and Healthwatch England.

Some disabled people benefited from virtual conferences, whilst others found them inaccessible. The researchers urge the NHS, to use the right blend of communication for specific patients, blending text, phone, email, video and in-person. There should be no blanket roll out of video conferencing.

Read more on our website. 

Tackling Obesity Strategy – accessible to all?

The government has today published its Tackling Obesity strategy as we are all urged to keep our weight in check, in a bid to beat coronavirus and protect our National Health Service.

The “Better Health” campaign by Public Health England, which is launched alongside the strategy, aims to empower the two-thirds of our adult population who are overweight – half of whom are obese – “to help them lose weight and live healthier lives”. Measures include a 12-week plan that people can use to develop healthier eating habits and cycling prescribed by GPs. We will also see changes to the marketing and advertising of food, including a reduction of ‘by one, get one free’ (BOGOF) offers on foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

Read more on our website.

Wheels for Wellbeing welcome Government’s Active Travel Plan

Wheels for Wellbeing welcomes the Government’s Active Travel Plan and new Cycle Design guidance, which highlights the importance of ensuring cycling provision is suitable for all cyclists and types of cycles, including Disabled cyclists. Isabelle Clement, Director of Wheels for Wellbeing and a handcyclist herself said: “we worked hard to influence the contents of this guidance and are very pleased to see it refers to the needs of Disabled people who cycle throughout.

But we know that infrastructure design guidance for will not, in isolation, enable Disabled people to cycle, and we will continue to push for explicit support for Disabled people to start cycling, through opportunities to trial different non-standard cycles, the inclusion of non-standard cycles in ‘cycling on prescription’ schemes, and financial subsidies for non-standard cycles, which overall are extremely expensive.

We will also keep pushing for a Blue Badge styled scheme for Disabled cyclists, and greater provision of space for non-standard cycles on all forms of public transport.

The Government’s Active Travel Plan and Cycle Design guidance is a good first step, but further action is still needed to make all the benefits of Active Travel accessible to all.”

Read more on Wheels for Wellbeing’s campaign.

Get more information on the government’s active travel plan.

Join Get Yourself Active Co-Production Q&A

On Wednesday 5th August at 2pm, Get Yourself Active are hosting a ‘Co-production Q&A Session’ as a way to finish off our speedy co-production series that we have been running over the last 2 months. Our webinars have covered a range of important topics all to do with co-production, with the aim of supporting more organisations in both the sport sector and disability sector to understand the basics of co-production, as well as sharing good practice on effectively embedding co-production into practice.

We are running this session as a way of answering further questions and  discussing topics we may not have covered as part of our series. As part of this Q&A session we will be welcoming panellists to answer some of your questions, including Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK, Sue Bott, and Evan Odell. If you have any questions you would like answering on the day, please ask these in the registration form when booking, or email lydia.bone@disabilityrightsuk.org.

Book your place here.

New DR UK updated benefit sanctions factsheet free to download

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey recently announced conditionality and benefit sanctions, suspended from March, had been reintroduced as jobcentres in England start to reopen after lockdown. In the light of this, DR UK has updated its free benefits sanctions factsheet to describes the sanctions that apply to universal credit, ‘new style’ employment and support allowance and ‘new style’ jobseeker’s allowance. Issues covered include:

  • what a benefit sanction is and the different levels
  • how long sanctions may last
  • avoiding or reducing the risk of a sanction
  • how to challenge a sanction decision
  • how to claim a hardship payment
  • where to get more help or information

DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser Ken Butler says “The decision to reintroduce conditionality and sanctions is appalling and one that DR UK strongly condemns. There has been no research that finds that the conditionality and sanctions regime helps disabled people. Instead there is evidence that the DWP’s sanctions system has discriminated against disabled people for a decade.

DR UK will continue to argue for replacing benefits sanctions with effective support for both disabled people and employers. Until then, it’s vital that disabled claimants know how the sanctions system works, how to avoid them and how to challenge them if imposed. Our updated factsheet gives useful information on all of these.”

Read more about our views on the announcement about conditionality and benefit sanctions being reintroduced.

Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme: for community organisations in England who are facing difficulties caused by Covid-19

A £9.5 million Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme is being delivered by Power to Change, Locality, The Ubele Initiative and Social Investment Business on behalf of the National Lottery Community Fund.

The scheme is aimed at community-led organisations that are facing financial challenges as a result of Covid-19. Funding of up to £100,000 is available for community-led organisations to:

  • help people and communities experiencing disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
  • provide services and support for people who are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, for which there will be increased demand as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

For more information, guidance and timeframes for applications visit the Power to Change website.

Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation report

The Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation study, was a research project by Innovation Caucus, a group supported by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council. The research group has published its policy paper to which Disability Rights UK contributed. It outlines the barriers, challenges, opportunities and support needs for minority ethnic groups and disabled people to participate in business innovation. It also explores how initiatives can effectively promote diversity and inclusion in business innovation.

You can find out more and access a copy of the report on GOV.UK.

Get Involved

Review the Equality Act as part of work on the National Disability Strategy

Please sign the petition asking the government to review the Equality Act 2010 as part of it’s work on the National Disability Strategy. The petition aims to do two things:

  1. hold the government to it’s word, when they say “the new strategy for disabled people will support all phases of their life with opportunity and fulfilment”.
  2. to let them know that the House of Lords has uncovered in its review of the 2010 Equality Act, the fundamental failure and damage it has caused.

Sign the petition.

Care Quality Commission: Help Shape Services – Tell Us About Your Care

The regulator for the NHS, care and other services in England is The Care Quality Commission (CQC). It is seeking people’s experiences of using services – GP surgeries, physio appointments, maternity care, etc – so that it can build a better picture of how they serve disabled people and their families.

Your completion of the ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ form for the CQC will help shape the future of these services.

You can give feedback via the Tell Us About Your Care web page.

For readers unable to complete an online form, contact us at DR UK and we will complete the form for you. We suggest that if possible you telephone in the afternoon as the telephone lines are generally quieter then. Our number is 0330 995 0400 and choose Option 1.

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.

Disability Rights UK Membership

Amongst all has happened over the previous six months, it’s easy to forget that your membership of Disability Rights UK may have lapsed. With issues such as the closing of town and city centres to cars, the compulsory wearing of masks when some disabled people cannot wear them, and the worrying delay in the processing of benefit applications and appeals, it’s never been more important to have your voice heard.

Membership costs just £7.50 per year for individuals and includes our Member Bulletin, Updaters for our Handbook and the opportunity to vote at our AGM, and renewal can be done easily online via this link, by telephone (0330 995 0400 and choose ‘Option 1’) or by post.

Not only will we welcome back members whose membership may have lapsed, but new members are always welcome to support us and the campaigning that we do – follow this link to find out how to join us.

Introduction to Welfare Benefits new online course

DR UK is pleased to offer a new online course in partnership with the Benefits Training Company on 1st and 2nd September 2020.

Introduction to Welfare Benefits is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know more about – or need a refresher on – changes to welfare benefits and social security.

The course will be run in four parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.

  • Part 1: The structure of the system – Tuesday 1 September 10.00 – 11.00
  • Part 2: The importance of health & disability benefits – Tuesday 1 September 11.30 – 12.30
  • Part 3: Universal Credit & the wider benefits system – Wednesday 2 September 10.00 – 11.00
  • Part 4: Maximising income from benefits – Wednesday 2 September 11.30 – 12.30

Please click here for more information and to book your place.

The course costs £112.50 + VAT per person for DR UK organisational members. After booking you will receive the Zoom link and pack attachments by email.


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.

Welfare Rights Helpline for Member Organisations

  • Telephone: 0203 687 0779
  • Opening hours: 10.30 to 12.30 Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Disability Rights UK
14 East Bay Lane
Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Stratford, London E20 3BS
United Kingdom
0330 995 0400