Disability Rights UK E-Newsletter

This is the latest Disability Rights UK newsletter (14/9/20)-  as always it’s a good read with links back to their website for details on the main stories.

Panorama report on SEND families ‘on their knees’

The BBC’s Panorama programme has reported on the dire situation many of the one million families with children with special educational needs and disabilities in the UK are facing.

Parents reported that they felt like “an unreasonable drain on resources” as appeals about EHCPs have shot up from 453 six years ago to almost 4,000 in 2019.

DR UK’s Kamran Mallick said: “We hear the same story across the whole country that parents of children with SEND are feeling failed. Raising a child is exhausting. Raising a child while fighting a system which should put the child at its centre, but instead puts the process at its centre, is emotionally and financially draining for far too many families. They are on their knees.

“With the Spending Review just around the corner, and the National Disability Strategy just months away now, we hope that government will recognise that the right foundations of support, laid down in childhood, pave the way for inclusive, accessible futures for all disabled people, for life.”

Read more on our website.

Housing Minister announces housing accessibility consultation

The Minister for Housing Robert Jenrick has launched a consultation on the accessibility of new homes.

The consultation is seeking views on how to raise accessible housing standards, including the option to raise minimum standards for all new homes. It would also include further features to make homes more easily adaptable over time.

The consultation closes on 1 December 2020.

The news comes as Habinteg launches its annual accessible housing week from Monday 14 September.

Read more on our website.

Adult social care spending still down on 2010 figures – TUC report

Annual adult social care spending in England is still £600m lower than in 2010, according to new analysis published by the TUC.

In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’ but plans have yet to be revealed.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “Again, this report highlights the serious lack of funding in social care and the urgent need for the government to take action.

“Society cannot rely on the ad hoc provision of informal care from family and friends.

“We are looking at a 49% increase in people aged over 65 by 2040. The system is already broken now. If nothing substantial is done, in twenty years, the outcomes for disabled people and older people are unimaginable.

“If the government is serious about the National Disability Strategy, we expect to see major investment in social care in the forthcoming Spending Review.”

Read more on our website.

Keep the Universal Credit £20 per week uplift and expand it to ESA, says JRF

700,000 people risk being swept into deep poverty when the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit is removed in April 2021 according to new analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Deep poverty is recognised as being when people live 50% below the poverty line.

A further 16 million families will lose over £1,000 from their annual budgets overnight. The Foundation is calling on the government to keep the uplift, and extend it to other benefits including disability benefits.

Ken Butler, DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said: “DR UK stands alongside the JRF’s recommendation that “the Government must keep the lifeline, strengthen social security and support the recovery by making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits.

“The Government is due to announce the benefit rates for 2021/2022. So this detailed analysis and these costings are welcome and timely.”

Read more on our website.

EHRC reminds shops to comply with the Equality Act

New guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission published this week reminds retailers that the Equality Act requires them not to discriminate on the basis of disability and to provide required reasonable adjustments.

The guidance also asks them to plan ahead for the needs of disabled shoppers, to communicate effectively with disabled customers and to ensure all staff are properly trained.

Fazilet Hadi, DR UK’s Head of Policy said “The EHRC guidance is very welcome and we hope that big and small retailers will take note. This year marks 25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act and it is hugely disappointing that retailers need to be reminded of their equality obligations.”

“Whilst the experience of disabled people trying to purchase food during the early months of the Coronavirus crisis was appalling, there is now no excuse for supermarkets and other shops not to improve services to disabled customers and to plan for the future.”

Read more on our website.

DWP response to Coronavirus inquiry ‘inadequate’ finds Work and Pensions Committee

The Work and Pensions Committee Chair, Stephen Timms MP, has criticised the DWP’s response to the committee’s report on the Coronavirus crisis, for not addressing major points MPs raised.

One recommendation of the report – published in June – was that rates of ESA and other ‘legacy benefits’ must be raised to provide help for those not yet moved to Universal Credit and who are struggling to meet the extra inescapable costs imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic

Mr Timms has asked the Secretary of State to reply to him by 23 September.

Read more, including our comment, on our website.

NHS and care workers to be given clear masks

NHS and care workers will be given clear face masks to help them communicate with people with certain conditions like hearing loss, autism and dementia, the government has announced.

The masks are see-through and have an anti-fogging barrier to ensure the face and mouth are always visible to help doctors, nurses and carers communicate better with their patients.

The masks will help those who need to lip read or rely on facial expressions to support communication.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “This is a simple, necessary measure that will go a long way to providing assuring for the 12 million people with hearing loss in the UK.”

Over a quarter of students unable to access uni learning

Over a quarter (27%) of university students were unable to access online learning during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to NUS research reported in The Guardian which suggests that disabled students and those from poorer backgrounds were worst affected.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “We know that last term was a nightmare for many students. But there are fears that the challenges faced from March have still not been ironed out for this new academic year. With students returning to university in the next week or so, it is imperative that universities provide full access to all necessary resources, and have clear back up plans should their means of fully connecting with students fall down.”

Read more on our website.

Northern charities create ‘Manifesto for a Better Normal’

Disability North is one of a group of North East charities calling for change across the North East of England as part of a ‘Manifesto for a Better Normal’. The campaign sets out the ways in which disabled people have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and calls on government, services and businesses to learn lessons and put plans in place to ensure the North East is a fairer place for disabled people.

Read more on our website.