|71% of disabled people believe lives adversely affected by pandemic
Many disabled people are understandably proud of the work that was done by so many to secure the Disability Discrimination Act 25 years ago. The BBC have produced a news clip including footage of the protests that led to the Act and interviews with those who protested at the time. You can read their stories and hear their views on this link to the BBC news website.
However, an online survey conducted for BBC News in partnership with YouGov provides the shocking result that 71% of disabled people believe that their lives have been negatively affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey goes on to say ‘Among those receiving care or support, 60% of the disabled people asked reported difficulty getting hold of at least one essential item such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medication or vital breathing equipment.’
Out of over 1000 disabled people of working age (18-65) that were surveyed, 65% felt their rights have been negatively impacted due to COVID-19.
With social care provision having been at the forefront of national debate over the course of the pandemic, the disabled people surveyed were also asked how their care had been impacted.
52% of the disabled people who receive social care said a lack of support has meant they have been unable to perform basic tasks such as leave the house, eat, wash themselves, socialise or attend essential medical appointments. 48% of those who receive regular treatments like physiotherapy and talking therapies for mental health conditions, reported that these services had reduced during the pandemic.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was designed to make it unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities, but 25 years on, 78% of all disabled people surveyed said they felt they are ‘treated worse than those who are not disabled.’
Disability Rights UK’s CEO, Kamran Mallick said “These figures chime strongly with what we have been hearing from disabled people since the pandemic took hold.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, some dared to hope that where many non-disabled people were forced to live on very low incomes, without access to basic supplies or human contact for care or socialisation, there would be an understanding that would translate into better consideration of our needs and an empathy akin to that directed towards NHS staff.
“Instead, we have seen a doubling down of difficulties. At the beginning of the pandemic, fast flowing information put us at the bottom of the pile for access to everything necessary to continue living independent lives, right up to the hugely concerning dissemination of letters to disabled people urging agreement to Do Not Resuscitate notices when it came to Covid treatment.
“We know of life-threatening delays in the supply of medicines and vital medical treatment; thousands of people unable to get food; people given the choice between working for full pay in unsafe environments or switching to SSP which is not enough to live on; an increase in mental health conditions as a symptom of prolonged isolation for shielders; disabled people with mask exemptions being verbally and physically attacked for not wearing face coverings, and ultimately, two-thirds of Covid deaths being those of disabled people.
“On this important anniversary, and with the government in the thick of formulating its National Disability Strategy, it has to recognise that systemic failures to treat us equally must end now.”
Office for National Statistics publish ‘Coronavirus and the Social Impacts on Disabled People in Great Britain: October 2020’
This report contains indicators from the ‘Opinions and Lifestyle’ survey on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on disabled people in Great Britain.
The big headline from the ONS research is that disabled people have been disproportionately affected by reductions and cancellations to NHS treatments. You can read the full report by clicking here.
Lockdown hit children, disabled and BAME people – Lords committee
In the first comprehensive analysis of how public services responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the House of Lords Public Services Committee says “fundamental weaknesses” must be addressed to make services resilient enough to withstand future crises.
Hundreds of thousands of “invisible” children are falling through gaps between social and education services across England, the committee has warned in a new report – A critical juncture for public services: lessons from COVID-19. The report found:
·Just one in 10 vulnerable children went to school during lockdown
· Not enough support for prevention and early intervention services
· Fight against health inequality should be Government priority
· Good work and innovation “will be lost” without reform
Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, Chair of the Public Services Committee, said “Government, local authorities and other public service providers are not working together effectively to protect vulnerable children.
“Before COVID-19 many vulnerable children couldn’t get the public services they needed. With most unable to attend school because of the lockdown they had little support and many more have become invisible after losing contact with public services during the pandemic.”
You can read the report by clicking here.
Continuing Institutionalisation of Disabled People
Despite government targets to move 30% of people with learning disabilities and autistic people out of hospital settings and into the community, the BBC’s File On 4 reports that few people have been moved and government targets have repeatedly not been met.
Reasons put forward for the failure to make progress included lack of appropriate community provision and the reluctance of local authorities to take responsibility for funding community-based placements.
The target has now been increased to 50% but has been deferred to 2024. Contributors to the programme expressed doubt as to whether this new target would be met, and criticised the length of time it would take.
The programme also shared evidence of increasing rates of seclusion and restraint being used in institutional settings.
You can listen to File On 4, first broadcast on 10th November, by clicking here.
Reform urgently needed to social security and employment support for people with mental health problems: new research report
The new report – Mental health, welfare conditionality and employment support highlights three key concerns:
– the use of sanctions is ineffective and can exacerbate mental health problems;
– welfare conditionality gives little or no consideration to mental health problems and should not have been reinstated during the Covid-19 pandemic;
– claimants with mental health problems are not effectively supported by existing employment services.
You can read more about the report here.
Related to the above, the government has just launched a new enquiry –
Work and Pensions Committee to Examine Disability Employment Gap
Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:
“Almost one in five working-age people has a disability or long-term health condition. For some, this has little impact on their ability to work. But too often, having a disability or a long-term health condition means dropping out of the labour market entirely. With the right support, this can often be avoided. The Committee wants to look broadly at the support DWP offers to disabled people and to consider how this could be improved to help people find, stay, and progress in work.”
You can read more about the enquiry here.
Jodey Whiting’s family given permission to apply for second inquest into her death
The family of Jodey Whiting has been granted permission to apply to the High Court for a fresh inquest into her death after new evidence was submitted about the effect on her of a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decision to halt the benefits on which she was entirely dependent.
Jodey’s mother, Joy Dove, was granted permission by the office of the Attorney General following her submission that the original inquest into her daughter’s death was insufficient. The new evidence she submitted in support of her application included an investigation into the handling of Jodey’s benefits by the DWP and a report from an independent psychiatrist.
You can read more by clicking here.
Help us to stop ableism in messages about physical activity and sedentary behaviour
Disability Rights UK’s Get Yourself Active Team are working with our close partner Durham University to change the way we talk about physical activity.
In recent years, organisations and public health agencies around the world have started to target sedentary behaviour. This is often done through messages like “Stand up, sit less”, “Sit less, move more”, and “Chairs are killers”. During a recent research project with Durham University, DR UK found that disabled people believed these messages were ableist and wanted change.
You can read more by clicking here.
Opportunity to Make All New Build Homes Accessible
The UK government is consulting on changes to the standards for new build homes. The consultation closes on 1 December. One of the options proposed is that all new build homes have to be accessible. Another option requires all homes to be accessible with a proportion of homes built for wheelchair users.
DR UK’s Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi said “We would urge as many organisations and individuals as possible to respond to the consultation, showing the strength of feeling on making all new build homes accessible. This is a fantastic opportunity to create housing which is genuinely inclusive”.
You can read more about this story here.
New Weekly Podcast on Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Introducing Inclusive Innovators podcast, part of UCL’s East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone (ELIEZ) an accessible, specially designed, community for entrepreneurs who are disabled or whose work focuses on accessibility. In this series, listeners will have an opportunity to hear from start-ups, design thinkers, entrepreneurs and partners that are part of the ELIEZ community.
Each episode is hosted by Matt Pierri , founder of Sociability, an app which helps disabled people find accessible spaces. The first episode features ELIEZ member, Anike Mlemchukwu, who founded Lapapo, an online marketplace featuring products, services and support for children with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down Syndrome, Vision Impairment and more.
Listen to the full episode: https://soundcloud.com/uclsound/inclusive-innovators-anike-mlemchukwu-founder-of-lapapo
Guests in the series include our own Kamran Mallick, Vicki Austin (Global Disability Hub) and Paralympian Liz Johnson.
Call for user-led organisations to apply to the Tackling Inequalities Fund:
Disability Rights UK is one of the National Delivery Partners for Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund. The fund aims to reduce the negative impact of Covid-19 and any widening of inequalities in participation rates in sport and physical activity. The Get Yourself Active team at DR UK is accepting applications from User Led Organisations, or organisations which can demonstrate a user-led project idea, that supports disabled people, and/or people with long-term health conditions, to keep active in a Covid-19 safe environment and in a way that is right for them. For more details about the fund, including how to apply, please contact email@example.com or call on 0203 687 0784.
High Court finds DWP unlawfully refused Universal Credit to disabled students for seven years – only for Secretary of State to change the law to bar them again
A newly published High Court judgment has shown that, between 2013 and 2020, thousands of disabled students were unlawfully barred from claiming Universal Credit for essential living costs benefit.
This is because the Court found that the Government had adopted an unlawful policy of rejecting their claims without conducting work capability assessments.
The judgment – R (Kauser and JL) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CO/987/2020 – is available from gcnchambers.co.uk.
However, on the working day immediately after she conceded the judicial review claim – the Secretary of State amended the 2013 Universal Credit Regulations.
Ken Butler, DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:
“In over 30 years as a Welfare Rights Officer I can’t ever recall before a DWP Minister straightforwardly admitting they acted unlawfully let alone over a seven year period.
“The judicial review victory is significant and will hopefully will lead to very many disabled students being awarded the Universal Credit they were wrongly denied.
“Given it acted unlawfully, the DWP should rightly carry out a review exercise to ensure that all such disabled students are identified. It should not be left to individual students to seek challenge refused benefit decisions themselves.
“Unfortunately, the High Court victory is a bitter sweet one as the Secretary of State immediately introduced new regulations to more effectively bar disabled students from Universal Credit.
“Let’s hope that the effect of these will also be cancelled out by a future legal challenge.”
You can read more on this story by clicking here.
Those who ‘fail to attend’ telephone Work Capability Assessments may now have their ESA stopped or UC entitlement changed
In it’s 6 November Touchbase update newsletter, the DWP says:
“When telephone health assessments were introduced in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) earlier this year, an easement was in put in place so that Fail to Attend (FTA) and Fail to Participate (FTP) actions were not taken as a result of someone not attending a scheduled telephone assessment.
“From Monday 2 November, the ESA and UC telephone assessment appointment letters will make it clear that claimants must attend their telephone appointment. FTA and FTP action will commence, e.g. benefit may be stopped (ESA) or entitlement changed (UC), for those who have been issued with this letter and fail to attend or participate in their appointments without good reason.”
You can read more on this by clicking here.
Video Relay Service now available across all DWP service lines
The DWP has announced that the Video Relay Service (VRS), rolled out for universal credit in April 2020, has now been extended to all its service lines. VRS enables British Sign Language (BSL) users to contact DWP via a BSL interpreter.
The VRS app and an introductory video are available from https://www.signvideo.co.uk/downloads
You can read more on this story here.