Disability Rights UK Newsletter

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new digital version of the Disability Rights Handbook 46th Edition 2021-2022. Created to support remote working, this enhanced version of our flagship publication is an essential resource for all professional advisers.

Our online service sits on the well-established AskCPAG platform:

  • Fully searchable
  • Create your own bookmarks, make notes, and cite in different formats
  • Clickable weblinks
  • Accessible (works with screen readers)
  • Regular bi-monthly updates throughout the year
  • Mobile-ready (you can even read it on your phone)
  • Access to articles on the AskCPAG website

Subscriptions cost £37 and can be purchased from the CPAG shop.

Individuals on benefits can subscribe for 12 months for £19. Contact us for a discount code to use at checkout. Email tony.stevens@disabilityrightsuk.org

News Round-up

Health Secretary slams ‘horrific examples’ of housing for Disabled people

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has condemned ‘horrific examples’ of housing after ITV exposed two cases of Disabled people forced to live in housing with wet walls covered in black mold, one of whom has a serious breathing condition and another who has anxiety and lives with her small children.

10 million people are living in housing which is not fit for purpose, including many Disabled people.

Matt Hancock said it was up to landlords to deal with inadequate homes, but that it is up to Government “to make sure, frankly, there’s enough good quality housing.”

Health conditions caused by poor quality housing cost the NHS £1.4 billion every year.

DR UK’s CEO Kamran Mallick said: “It’s good to hear the Health Secretary recognise how serious people’s living situations are. This is a deep rooted problem with some serious Catch 22s involved. People on waiting lists for social housing can be kicked off the list if they refuse housing knowing it will make them ill, if it doesn’t have the correct adaptations, or if it doesn’t come with a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan if they are on higher, inaccessible floors which put them at greater risk in case of fire.

“The Government is embarking on building programmes to fix the housing crisis with no improvement to M-Regs which determine the accessibility of properties. 10 million people are living in incredibly poor conditions now. That figure will only increase unless the Government takes a strong two-pronged approach to improvements: fixing housing stock which already exists, and ensuring that the houses of tomorrow are fit for whole life use, from cradle, through impairment, to grave.”

Read more here.

SEND education in crisis as Ofsted and Observer highlight provision and budget shortfalls of over £0.5 billion

Councils in England are facing a funding shortfall for education for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) of over £0.5 billion.

The research, compiled by the Observer newspaper, comes at the same time as an Ofsted report highlights that children with SEND are not getting anywhere near the support they need in schools, even before any new cuts Councils may be forced to implement.

The SEND system has been in crisis since 2014, when the Children and Families Act increased the range of ages of children and young people with SEND that councils had to support – but without Government then providing the necessary money.

In the past decade, there has been a 51.6% increase in the number of children in special schools. The number of children with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs) has increased by 70.9% in the same time frame. There are now 390,109 children with EHCPs.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “This is an educational crisis. There has been a chasm between needs and appropriate funding for years. These reports are a double whammy, with the Observer figures showing an overspend of half a billion on high needs. This isn’t taking into account the needs of pupils deemed as having fewer needs.

Children do not have their own voice in the policy system. Their needs are too often are overlooked. Every child matters. The education of every child must matter. The dearth of funding for the most critical period of development is resigning hundreds of thousands of Disabled children to a lifetime of underachievement which will end up costing government more in the long run. Government needs to put SEND on the same footing as its talk about fixing social care, and then address both, urgently.”

Johnson pledges Spring 2022 Inquiry into Covid, NAO report shows major disjunct between health and care

The Prime Minister has committed to a full public independent Inquiry into the pandemic starting in Spring 2022. The Inquiry will be able to compel people to give evidence.

Speaking to the House of Commons last week, he said: “The state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future, which is why I have always said that when the time is right there should be a full and independent Inquiry.”

The announcement came after months of calls from bereaved families, charities including DR UK, trades unions and the Labour party.

This week, the National Audit Office released a report on the Government’s response to Covid, noting it “lacked detailed contingency plans to manage the unfolding situation” at the outset.

Four million people have contracted Covid to date, and 127,000 people have died of the virus within a month of contracting it.

Local government has also struggled to deal with Covid off the back of years of budget cuts. Local Authority (LA) budgets were cut by almost a third (28.7%) in real terms between 2010 and 2020. Public health grants to LAs were also slashed by £0.5 billion leaving Councils no choice but to cut back on services related to health. Only six per cent of Councils will not be making further cuts in the current financial year.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “It’s one thing for successive governments to be concerned with refilling the piggy bank, but quite another to do this while unscrewing the shelf on which it sits. Covid has highlighted how so many vital services have smashed to the floor in the past decade. Government can no longer leave people stuck in the mess it has made. It must act to fix essential services, make the NHS sustainable, and sort out social care.” Read the report.

Read more here.

The Valuable 500 hits its CEO target

Global business collective, The Valuable 500, has reached its goal of 500 international organisations committing to put disability inclusion on their board agenda, making it the world’s biggest CEO collective for disability inclusion.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “The Valuable 500 has achieved so much in such a short space of time. This is a great milestone. Disability should be on every board’s agenda, leading from the top as the 500 have signed up to do. It’s time for businesses to recognise the benefits a Disabled workforce brings to the wider market. However, the walk needs to match the talk. Goals need to truly reflect the national population. Companies need to act with true commitment and ambition, not tentative tokenistic baby steps. It’s time for real, meaningful change.”

Read more here.

Over 28,000 people receiving home care died during pandemic

Over 25,000 people in England and over 3,000 people in Scotland who were receiving care in their homes (domiciliary care) have died during the pandemic according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

ONS figures suggest that deaths in England increased by nearly 50% and in Scotland by around 70% between April last year to March this year, compared with the year before. This compares with an increase of 22% in the wider population in England.

Although recorded deaths have soared, less than 10% were Covid-related, although some hotspots in England show rates of around 20%.

The data shows very wide regional differences in deaths across England. In this, it appears to reflect the fragmented, complex home care system, where care can be delivered through one of almost 19,000 providers, including agencies, non-profits, councils, NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Care Quality Commission data shows that deaths of adults in home care more than doubled in 38 council areas in England. Ten local authorities recorded triple the usual rates of deaths.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi told the Bureau: “The dramatic increase in deaths of people receiving domiciliary care during the pandemic appears to be truly shocking. It is very important that the figures are further analysed.

“Disabled and older people receiving care at home can often be very isolated and forgotten by the world around them. The everyday challenges they face are largely invisible and it is time we put a spotlight on their experiences during the pandemic.”

More than six in ten referred to a food bank are Disabled people

People forced to food banks at the start of the pandemic faced extreme poverty, with just £248 a month to survive on after housing costs, according to new research by the Trussell Trust.

The new study also shows that over seven in ten households referred to a food bank in early 2020 had someone with ill-health or disability, four times the rate in the general population.

A majority (62%) of working age people referred to food banks in early 2020 had a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010, more than three times the rate in the general working age population (19%).

People reporting poor health were six times more likely to be food insecure than people reporting ‘excellent’ health.

The Trussell Trust says that “this raises questions about the sufficiency of health-related ‘legacy benefits’ like ESA, which was not raised in April 2020”. Read more here.

Yayoi Kusama: light and magic blog

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at Tate Modern is the sold out hot ticket in art right now. Her trippy immersive worlds transport the viewer into a realm of infinite lights, reflections, dots and colours which reach around the participant in all directions. After a minute of letting go and just being present in the space, you are lost in the illusion that you are weightless, submersed in her vision, literally floating on her synapses.

Now 92, Kusama has experienced hallucinatory auras, often consisting of dots which would become one of her signature motifs, since she was ten years old. She has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric hospital since the 1970s. Her entire oeuvre is borne of her unique lived experience as a Disabled person.

DR UK’s Media and Communications Manager Anna Morell looks at how Kusama uses her impairments to inform her art for it to become a transformative experience for its audiences on the DR UK blog.

New Disability Rights Handbook now shipping

href=”https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60187&qid=9577335″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener” data-saferedirecturl=”https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u%3D60187%26qid%3D9577335&source=gmail&ust=1622103126237000&usg=AFQjCNEXnFmBo_WbgGuBXur0VidfOxZuBw”>Disability Rights Handbook cover image

Updated for 2021/22 including:

      • Benefits for people living with health conditions, injury or disability and for carers, children and young people
      • How the system works, how to claim and how to challenge a decision
      • Support for people in education or work, not in work, looking for work or in retirement
      • Getting and paying for care and support services
      • DR UK can provide a Microsoft Word version on request as an alternative format. For example, if you’re an adviser with a visual impairment and you don’t find the printed copy accessible.

    Inquiry into access to elected office in the UK

    Further to the Government’s failure to establish a permanent fund to support Disabled election candidates, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability has launched an inquiry into access to elected office in the UK.

    It is keen to receive evidence from Disabled people (including those who have stood for or secured an elected position, political parties, public sector organisations, charities and academics.

    It is inviting written submissions into all aspects of accessing elected office, but are particularly interested in submissions answering the following questions:

        1. What are the largest barriers when deciding to stand for election?

    Have these barriers deterred you from standing for election? This can include but is not limited to social, economic and political factors.

        1. Once elected, are there barriers within your institution (local authority, parliament etc) that limit your ability to carry out your role?
        2. (If applicable) When elected, are there barriers to career progression?
        3. What can be done to support an increase in elected disabled representatives?

    Are there examples of successful initiatives or activities that have increased political representation?

        1. What support (if any) do disabled people need to run for elected office?

    What can the government do to support disabled candidates?

        1. What progress has been made in helping people with disabilities run for elected office?
        2. Did the Access to Elected Office Fund and EnAble Fund have a significant impact?

    What can be improved from the previous funds?

    Should there be a permanent fund established to help people with disabilities run for elected office?

    Where possible, please give specific examples and references. Please feel free to only write evidence on particular aspects that are relevant to your area of expertise.

    You can respond on behalf of an organisation or as an individual. However, please state clearly who the submission is from, for example whether from yourself in a personal capacity or sent on behalf of an organisation.

    Please submit your written evidence via email to:  appginquiry@gmail.com

    We ask that you put ‘APPG for Disability – Call for Evidence’ in the subject line.

    The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 18 June 2021.

    Read more here.

    Disability Rights UK is recruiting

    Disability Rights UK is looking to hire an experienced Communications Officer to join the Sport England funded Get Yourself Active programme. The chosen candidate will be joining a highly successful team that has been working with disabled people for the last six years to change attitudes, perceptions and practices around physical activity and wellbeing. We are seeking a highly articulate and proactive individual with a flair for communications, with lived and/or professional experience of disability. The successful individual will work closely with Get Yourself Active team colleagues to manage internal and external communications and to engage new audiences and existing stakeholders. The post will play a key role in ensuring our communications are influential, informative and engaging, as well as leading on work supporting the redevelopment of our website.

    Click here to view further information and apply.

    Benefits training courses

    DR UK offers a range of 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.

    Universal Credit Overview 

    No previous experience is required although a working knowledge of the wider benefits system is helpful.

    Part 1: Eligibility and rollout / The UC calculation – Tuesday 15 June 9.45am – 12.45pm

    Part 2: The claims process / Work requirements and sanctions – Wednesday 16 June 9.45am – 12.45pm

    Click here for more information and to book your place.

    Preparing for an Appeal Tribunal

    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 6 July 9.45am – 12.45pm

    Part 2: Composing effective written submissions, preparing claimants for appeal hearings – Friday 7 July 9.45am – 12.45pm

    Click here for more information and to book your place.

    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.

    ULOs: apply for the Tackling Inequalities Fund

    Disability Rights UK (DR 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 (ULOs), 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 elliot.watson@disabilityrightsuk.org or call him on 0203 687 0771.

    Changes to social distancing and shielding

    The Government’s roadmap has introduced new changes from 17 May. You can find out what they are by visiting https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/coronavirus

    Young people – have your say on education

    The Educational Pathways and Work Outcomes of Disabled Young People in England Project at the University of Warwick is looking for Year 11 students with autism, cerebral palsy and/or dyslexia to take part in a three-year research project.

    Its aim is to explore the factors that lead to disability inequalities in educational and occupational attainment in England.

    There is increasing awareness surrounding the social barriers that prevent disabled young people from fulfilling their potential. Yet, the vast majority of existing research relies on information provided by parents and teachers. Disabled young people are rarely given a voice in research. This is due to long-standing assumptions about the ability of young people to take part in research studies and discuss their conditions/disabilities.

    The project challenges this assumption. It wants to hear young people’s views about their experiences of disability and schooling, and their plans and aspirations for the future. We aim to interview 60 young people twice over the course of our study. The first wave of (online) interviews will take place between April-August 2021, and the second wave approximately one year later.

    The study focuses on students in mainstream schools. It is looking for Year 11 students with autism, dyslexia, and/or cerebral palsy. While it would love to be able to include students with other conditions and learning disabilities in the study, the nature of the research means that it can only focus on these three groups for the time being.

    All interviews will be tailored to the individual needs and preferences of participants and their families. For each completed interview, participants will receive a £20 Love-to-Shop voucher.

    To take part or find out more, please get in touch with Dr Angharad Butler-Rees at disabled.transitions@warwick.ac.uk.

    Time to Grieve open letter

    Up to 300,000 people over 65 have been bereaved of a partner since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Bereavement and the grieving process is often difficult, but the pandemic has added further complications. Independent Age’s Time to Grieve campaign is calling on the government to increase access to emotional support to help people cope with their grief. Whether it’s information and advice, counselling, support groups or online forums, we need to see a range of emotional support available to people across England. It has written an open letter to Nadine Dorries, Minister of State for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety. You can add your signature to the letter here.

    Take a Deep Breath mental health and bereavement support

    The Samaritans, Mind, Shout 85258 and Hospice UK launched the Our Frontline support service last April at the start of the pandemic. It offers mental health and bereavement support to all key workers across the UK. It has just launched a new campaign, Take a Deep Breath.

    Any carers or frontline workers can access support by call, text or online. More details at ourfrontline.org

    NAS survey on young people and criminal justice 

    The National Autistic Society (in partnership with the University of Kent) is inviting autistic people to take part in its online survey about young autistic people’s experiences or concerns about being involved in the criminal justice system. To gather different experiences there are versions of the survey for autistic adults and their families and professionals.

    Job opportunities

    Manchester United Foundation, the community-focused organisation linked to Manchester United Football Club, has a vacancy for a SEND Officer and an Assistant SEND Officer. Call  0161 868 8600 or email enquiries@mufoundation.org for more information.

    Our Helplines