|What has the DDA done for you?
On Sunday 8 November, it will be 25 years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), the first civil rights legislation in the UK relating to disabled people. The DDA came 20 years after legislation outlawing race discrimination and sex discrimination, and we can thank the disability rights campaigners of the 1980s and 1990s for the fact it came at all.
Of course there is still a lot wrong with the way society treats disabled people, negative attitudes to us persist, inclusive design is not the norm and the benefits, support and services that some of us rely on have been drastically reduced. But none of this should stop us celebrating the DDA and expressing our heartfelt thanks to those who made it possible, the disability rights campaigners and Parliamentarians.
What has the DDA done for you? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We asked disabled colleagues at Disability Rights UK what the DDA has done for them.
Read their comments on our website.
Shielders told to shield – but only up to a point
A second lockdown is now running from 5 November to 2 December. New guidance has been issued to shielders, but falls short of the fuller protections offered back in the Spring.
DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “The bitter irony of the Prime Minister insisting in his address to the nation that it would be a “medical and moral disaster” if the country did not go into lockdown is not lost on us. The fact is, morally, the government has left addressing shielders until the last minute during this lockdown. The support offered is disjointed and not ‘oven ready’. And medically the government has failed to ensure that non-Covid related medical treatments will continue to be made available with ever increasing waiting times, resulting in nearly 13,000 extra deaths to date, not related to the virus.
“New guidance has been issued to shielders. But this time, the government is advising people it previously regarded as so vulnerable as to maintain strict shielding to basically carry on as per the new normal but at distance.
“There were 2.2 million people on the last shielders list. More categories of ‘vulnerability’ have been added to the list for this lockdown, including Down’s syndrome and those with Chronic Kidney Disease stage 5 (CKD5).
“There is less support from supermarkets for food deliveries this time round – we know that some have changed their terms and conditions, which will affect shielding disabled people on low incomes. And we know there is a waiting period once new shielders sign up for home delivery help. What do they do in the meantime?
“We know that not all workplaces are providing adequate safety measures. There is no extra provision beyond Statutory Sick Pay and benefits for those who need to shield instead of work for the coming month.
“And the government is advising that children go to school as they do not tend to suffer adverse effects from the virus – ignoring the fact that they are one of the principal vectors – something which again places adult shielders in families at greater risk.
“All information has been shared electronically. The government needs to get a handle on the fact that many disabled and older people do not and cannot use online resources to access information – hard copies, phone calls, or face to face information must be part of the communication strategy.
“Local government is being given a cash boost to provide more help to shielders. But the emphasis is on shielders to seek this out, through complex websites, rather than being sent the help, or information about the help they need directly.”
Campaigners slam government approach to care home visits
On 5 November, the first day of lockdown in England, the government published its long awaited guidance on visits to care home residents. The guidance urges care homes to work with residents and relatives to make visits possible. However, it also stresses the need to keep staff and residents safe from Coronavirus.
Whilst acknowledging that all care homes are different, the guidance suggests some ways of ensuring that visits are safe. These include: meeting outdoors, possibly in a semi-closed structure; speaking through a window; and installing full height screens.
Charities and campaigners have heavily criticised the guidance, saying that it shows a complete lack of understanding of the significant physical and mental conditions of residents. Many residents cannot leave their beds and would struggle to communicate in the ways suggested.
Mencap has called the guidance ‘prison-style measures’, with a spokesperson saying: “in some cases, people with a learning disability think they’ve been abandoned by their loved ones. This cannot go on.”
Campaigners are calling on the government to test family members, in the same way they test care home staff. They point to mass testing in Liverpool and ask why it is possible to do this, yet not make tests available to the families of care home residents.
Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said: “After eight months of Coronavirus, where families have been torn apart by being separated from their loved ones living in care homes, the government guidance has failed to provide any meaningful solutions.”
Read the government’s updated guidance on GOV.UK.
MP calls for face mask exemption awareness campaign
Disabled people who are unable to wear face coverings due to their impairments, are continuing to encounter hostility from some retail and transport staff and members of the general public.
Whilst the exemptions are clearly set out in regulations, there has been a failure by government to communicate strongly enough that some disabled people are not required to wear face coverings.
MP Bambos Charalambous, with the support of Disability Rights UK and other disability organisations, has written to government ministers alongside his constituent Georgina Fallows, who cannot wear a mask, asking for a public awareness campaign to be instigated.
Read the letter on our website.
Chancellor fails to respond to DBC uplift calls since June, CBI supports uplift
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has maintained a 22 week silence with regards to maintaining the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.
The Disability Benefits Consortium wrote to the Chancellor on 2 June 2020 requesting that the uplift be maintained going forward. It is still waiting for a response.
DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “It is inconceivable that the Chancellor has not had his staff respond to a letter signed on behalf of over a hundred charities this long ago. We are credible, serious organisations who deserve a credible, serious response to this request.”
In an unprecedented move last week, the outgoing Director General of employers’ organisation the CBI, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, backed the move to keep the uplift. “A period of impoverishment in our country is unthinkable,” she said. “I think the idea that the supplement would run out in March is something that should really be rethought. It’s also about fairness. There are going to be some people who have been kept in work through variations of the job support scheme, and others who are not so lucky. The gap between those two positions should not be so great.”
The call to keep the weekly uplift has been supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which last month found that three quarters of a million people will be swept into poverty once the uplift is removed next spring. Another half a million could end up in deep poverty (over 50% below the poverty line).
DR UK is among a number of organisations calling for the uplift to be extended to legacy benefits including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Income Support.
You can support our call by emailing your MP. A template can be downloaded from the Z2K website.
Man removed from home after court order granted in error
A disabled man was forcibly removed from his home after a court order was made without proper evidence or his case being heard.
A Court of Appeal ruling found that a judge wrongly granted the emergency order to Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust after it wrongly sought to remove Aamir Mazhar to hospital without him being given notice in April 2016.
DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “That a disabled person can be dragged off and held in hospital against their will when they have full capacity is truly horrifying. Local government, care providers, and those involved with the justice system must abide by human rights conventions. Not to do so is not only illegal, but utterly callous and inhumane.”
Read more on our website.
PHSO report highlights gaps in continuing healthcare
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has released a new report, Continuing Healthcare: getting it right first time based on cases it has dealt with in the past three years.
Among the issues addressed are the unlawful requirement for people to provide top-up funding for care, insufficient care planning and care provision, a lack of person-centred planning, a reliance on families picking up the slack for inadequate care packages, and retrospective unassessed periods of care.
DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “This report highlights what families and the care sector already know. It’s important that CCGs admit where they are getting it wrong, and then use the frameworks already in place to deliver where they are currently failing. The DHSC needs to introduce stronger checks and balances to ensure that CCGs are not trying to wheedle out of offering the fullest care packages necessary, and where measures are found to be lacking, introducing strong consequences to ensure that people who need care are not let down.”
Read the report on GOV.UK.
DfT launches new research grant
In a new move to entice disabled people to use public transport, The Department for Transport marked Purple Tuesday earlier this week by launching the first-of-its-kind Accessible Technology Research and Innovation Grant (A-TRIG), which will invest up to £500,000 in projects that can improve access to services or inspire more confidence to travel.
The Department is also publishing its two-year update on the Inclusive Transport Strategy, highlighting the work delivered.
Read more on our website.