Open Statement from Disabled People’s Organisations and Allies – February 2021
Coronavirus has hit disabled people hard. 60% of deaths from coronavirus have been those of Disabled People.
Disabled People have struggled to access healthcare, social care and food and many have been left without the £20 weekly uplift given to those on Universal Credit.
We ask Government and the NHS to recognise the enormous impact of coronavirus on the lives of Disabled People.
We urge Government and NHS to respond more urgently to protect disabled people from coronavirus.
We ask that the needs of Disabled People are met in more personalised and accessible ways.
In particular, we urge that action be taken to ensure that:
- The letter to 1.7 million new shielders and 2.2 million existing shielders is sent in plain English and accessible formats and that sources of information and support are provided both digitally and non-digitally.
- Everyone who has a learning disability or who is autistic or has a cognitive impairment is included in priority group 6, to ensure early vaccination.
- Disabled People of working age living in residential accommodation or hospitals are included in priority group 6, to ensure early vaccination.
- Disabled People know that they can contact their doctor for advice on whether they should be included in priority vaccination group 6.
- Everyone with a learning disability or who is autistic or has a cognitive impairment has their health records checked, to ensure that any wrongful Do Not Attempt Resuscitation notices are removed.
This statement already has the support of over 20 Disabled People’s Organisations and allies. Please feel free to promote on your own website and share through social media channels.
1.7 million new Shielders
Following a research study identifying factors, which increase risk of serious illness from COVID-19, the following factors have been identified, age, sex registered at birth, pre-existing conditions, ethnicity and BMI.
Patient medical records in England have been analysed on the basis of these factors and as a result 1.7 million people have now been added to the shielding list. A risk tool has also been developed that can be used by clinicians to identify others who should be included.
The new cohort of Shielders will be sent a letter advising them to stay at home as much as possible until 31 March. The over 2 million people already shielding will also be given this advice.
800,000 new Shielders will be prioritised for vaccination under priority group 6. The remaining 900,000 have already been offered vaccination during the first wave.
Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said “People identified to be at serious risk of illness from coronavirus should be supported and protected and it is fantastic that our understanding of risk factors has improved. However, receiving a shielding letter at this late stage, could cause people serious anxiety and concern.
We would urge the NHS to ensure that the letter is simple to understand and provided in accessible formats. The letter should offer practical and emotional support that can be reached offline, as well as digitally. People should be able to seek advice on employment issues and be supported to receive food and medicines.”
Abuse by carers should be included in Domestic Abuse Bill
Baroness Jane Campbell, supported by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Stay Safe East, is making a strong argument for new clauses to be inserted within the Domestic Abuse Bill, to cover abuse of disabled people by paid and unpaid carers.
Baroness Campbell will tell the House of Lords committee discussing the Bill that relationships between disabled people and paid and unpaid carers should be added to the list of personal connections set out in the Bill. This would enable controlling or coercive behaviours on the part of carers, to be covered by domestic abuse legislation. In addition, such behaviours should be treated as an offence under the Serious Crimes Act 2015.
Baroness Campbell has worked with a number of senior social care and disability discrimination lawyers to draft an official legal opinion.
Baroness Campbell will make the case that there is no other legislation which effectively deals with domestic abuse towards disabled people by carers and that not amending the Bill would constitute discrimination against disabled people.
Disabled People experience high levels of food poverty
Last week, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee heard evidence on problems relating to accessing food. Not surprisingly, those giving evidence highlighted that inadequate benefit levels was the underlying cause of much food insecurity.
Emma Revie from the Trussell Trust said that their data showed that 62% of working age adults using food banks were disabled people.
Anna Taylor from the Food Foundation said that levels of food insecurity were 12% higher for households with a disabled person, whereas pre-pandemic the difference had been 6%.
Fazilet Hadi, DR UK Head of Policy underlined the fact that disabled people on legacy benefits had not received the £20 per week uplift. She said that benefit levels no longer provided a safety net, as they didn’t cover basics such as housing, heating, food and digital inclusion.
Fazilet also referred to the unaffordability of online delivery charges and minimum basket spends and the hostile environment being faced by disabled people in regard to face mask exemptions.
Locked Down and Abandoned: Disabled People’s Experiences of Covid-19: new Inclusion London research report
Inclusion London has published its second report on disabled people’s experiences of the pandemic. The report describes how disabled people continue to experience hardship across all areas of life: increasing mental distress, social isolation and loneliness, food poverty, financial difficulties, workplace discrimination, problems accessing healthcare, and unequal access to medicine, vaccines, and social care.
The report makes 12 recommendations including:
- Urgently restoring disabled people’s rights currently open to easements under the Coronavirus Act.
- Ensure the active participation and representation of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) across all Covid-19 planning and recovery work.
- Maintaining the £20 Universal Credit increase, extending this increase to other disability and legacy benefits and increasing rates of Statutory Sick Pay to match living wage equivalents.
- An independent inquiry into the disproportionately high numbers of disabled people’s deaths from Covid-19, including the impact on communities that experience multiple and intersectional discrimination.
Other recommendations cover the need to close the digital divide, action to address the increased level of mental distress, urgent funding to local authorities to ensure disabled people get appropriate social care support, support for disabled people to get and keep good jobs and more health information in accessible formats.
Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said:
“This important report by Inclusion London documents the devastating impact that coronavirus has had on all aspects of disabled people’s lives. DR UK fully backs the report’s recommendations. We would urge Government to carefully consider the report, when developing its Disability Strategy.”
Read the full report: Locked Down and Abandoned: Disabled People’s Experiences of Covid-19.
Guidance on Covid-19 testing for personal assistants
The government has published guidance on how personal assistants working in adult social care in England can access weekly Covid-19 testing.
Personal assistants will be eligible for testing if they provide care that requires them to come within 2 metres of an adult over the age of 18 who they support. Personal assistants will be responsible for ordering test kits every 28 days – or an employer can order test kits for their personal assistant.
Get Yourself Active at Home
Are you looking for new ways to get active at home? Get Yourself Active has created a new section on their website to help you to find the resources you need to stay active during this time. On this new section you can find the accessible and inclusive exercise videos created in partnership with Sense and Durham University, which are also available on the Get Yourself Active YouTube channel. There are also a number of other useful resources from partner organisations that have been collated, from videos to downloadable toolkits and worksheets. To view the new Active @ Home section, please click here.
Northern Rail Accessibility Fund
Northern Rail has launched a £250,000 Accessibility Fund where applications for specific projects that will make a positive difference to communities across the north of England.
For the first time, the fund will be led and overseen by the Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG), an independently chaired pan disability user group, whose membership represents a range of disability groups and charities reflecting the communities served by Northern.
They are currently looking for nominations for projects or schemes that will enable disabled and older people to travel with Northern, by improving the accessibility of Northern trains and stations for the communities it serves across the north.
The Accessibility Fund will consider a wide range of proposals which involve their trains and stations. For more information including details of how to apply, please visit www.northernrailway.co.uk/
If you would like guidance on how suitable your project might be – please contact accessibility@northernrailway.
Developing a National Disability Strategy: Views and evidence from the EHRC
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a briefing to inform the National Strategy for Disabled People being developed by the Disability Unit in the Cabinet Office. The briefing considers the ways that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the deep-seated inequalities experienced by many disabled people which permeate every area of life.
National Strategy for Disabled People survey extended
As mentioned above, the Disability Unit in the Cabinet Office is developing a National Strategy for Disabled People. In January it launched a public survey to gather views. This original closing date for the survey was 13 February, but this has now been extended to 28 February.
Click here to visit Citizen Space and tell the government about the barriers you face and what it needs to focus upon to improve the lives of disabled people.
Benefits training courses
DR UK is offering two essential online courses in partnership with the Benefits Training Company. Each course is run in two parts, using Zoom and facilitated by an experienced benefits trainer.
Introduction to Welfare Benefits will be held on 27 and 28 April. The course 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.
Part 1: The structure of the system and the importance of health & disability benefits – Tuesday 27 April 9.45am – 12.45pm
Part 2: Universal Credit, the wider benefits system and maximising income – Wednesday 28 April 9.45am – 12.45pm
Preparing for an Appeal Tribunal will be held on 29 and 30 April. This course is aimed at professionals who work in advice or advocacy who need to know about how to prepare an Appeal Tribunal. A working knowledge of Personal Independence Payment and the Work Capability Assessment is assumed.
Part 1: Assessing the case, reviewing the DWP decision – Thursday 29 April 9.45am – 12.45pm
Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Friday 30 April 9.45am – 12.45pm
These courses sell out fast so early booking is encouraged. Each course costs £112.50 + VAT per person for DR UK organisational members. After booking you will receive a Zoom link and supporting materials by email.
Are you buying more from Amazon during the pandemic? Follow this link to Amazon Smile to log in and make DR UK your favourite charity. Same products, prices and service, but every time you buy, we receive a donation from Amazon. Simple and automatic, at no cost to you.
ELIEZ workshop on Accessible Comms
The East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone (ELIEZ) is running a comms workshop on 25 February 2.30 – 4.30 pm. Open to anyone and everyone who wants to find out how communications can be made more accessible. Live on Zoom. Captioning will be available.
Labour Party regional roadshows
The Labour Party, through the office of Vicky Foxcroft the Shadow Minister for Disabled People, is eager to speak to as many disabled people, charities, disabled people organisations, unions and other civil society organisations as possible about a New Deal for Disabled People. You can sign up here to take part in your regional or nations roadshow: www.vickyfoxcroft.org.uk/
Appealing decisions on home adaptations
Scope is looking to speak to disabled people or parents of disabled children who are planning to, or have experience of, challenging local authority on home adaptation decisions. This is to test some new materials they are producing. The testing will be done remotely on the phone or by video call and take up to one hour. Scope can offer participants a £30 eGift card. This can be spent online or in store at Amazon, Argos, Tesco, Asda, M&S and many more places. The eGift card won’t affect any benefits you might be receiving.
If you’re interested in taking part, please email Andy Lancaster email@example.com.
Disability inclusion in the LGBTQ+ community
Dis-section is Parapride’s new online series, an inclusive and safe digital space for conversing openly, honestly and respectfully about topics that are often not talked about in the wider LGBTQ+ community.
On Wednesday 3 March, the topic will be ‘Disability inclusion in the LGBTQ+ community: Breaking stigmas beyond the barriers’. BSL interpreter and live closed captions will be provided.
Employment advice webinars for jobseekers with sight loss
RNIB and Blind Ambition would like to invite you to their weekly employment advice webinars for jobseekers with sight loss.
Session 4: CV Preparation
When: Wednesday 24th February 2021
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any issues with registration.
Take part in DWP survey on digital services
DWP is looking to make improvements to an application used by healthcare professionals via feedback through an online survey. There are questions about yourself and interacting with digital services. They are also asking individuals to take part in the development of the service.
Our helplines are operating as normal:
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