Disability Rights UK Newsletter

The Disability Rights Handbook is now online

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

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Tens of Thousands of COVID Deaths ‘Could Have Been Prevented’

In evidence to a joint meeting of the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee, the Government’s former adviser, Dominic Cummings, spoke about a catalogue of failings that led to tens of thousands of unnecessary COVID deaths.

Cummings spoke about delays in announcing the first lock down and problems with the establishment of the Test and Trace system. He was hugely critical  of the policy to move people leaving hospital into Care Homes, without any COVID testing taking place. Cummings also pointed to delays in calling the second lock down.

The Government has said that an inquiry into how the pandemic was handled will start in April 2022.

To read a BBC report of Dominic Cummings’ evidence, click here.

Government Urged to Protect Disabled People from Fire

Almost 4 years after the Grenfell Tower fire where 72 people lost their lives, half of whom were Disabled People or children and 85% of whom were from minority ethnic backgrounds, Government has failed to implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations on Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans for disabled residents who can’t self-evacuate in the event of fire.

Disability Rights UK, Grenfell Next of Kin and the Leaseholders Disability Action Group, alongside disability, access and housing organisations, are calling on Government to take urgent action to protect Disabled People from fire.

In an Open Statement shared with the Secretary of State for the Home Office, Priti Patel and the Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, the Government is asked to implement protections for Disabled People who can’t self-evacuate in the event of fire and to ensure that no disabled leaseholder loses their home or is financially penalised due to the need for remedial works to remove cladding.

Disability Rights UK’s Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi said “It is now over 18 months since the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommended that building owners and managing agents should have a legal duty to prepare Personal emergency Evacuation Plans for disabled residents unable to self-evacuate. It is completely unacceptable that thousands of disabled residents continue to live in fear of fire.

It is also wholly unjust that disabled leaseholders should fear losing their adapted homes or be asked to contribute to bills for remedial works that they can’t afford and that aren’t their responsibility.

Government needs to take swift action to protect Disabled People and the Open Statement sets out what needs to happen.

To read or download the Open Statement, click here.

 

Launch of Passenger Assistance App

Transreport, a company who “use technology to democratise transport”, have launched a new passenger assistance smart phone app.

Speaking about the app, our Rail Policy Adviser, Stephen Brookes, said “It is important that disabled people can access effective and efficient special assistance when travelling by rail. The facility of the new Passenger Assistance Application to be able to provide and update personal requirement profiles and use this app to be able to change journey requirements ‘on the hoof’ are of real importance as disabled people take advantage of increased freedom to travel, particularly right now after the restrictions of Covid see more people using trains.

“We understand that there will be some challenges and disappointments being raised over this new facility, but it is important to see that the app is simple to use and we hope that the technical issues and contents on booking and tickets are modified or amended to widen the scope and success of the app as soon as possible.”

You can read more about the app on Transreport’s website.

Charities call for Network Rail and the Department for Transport to Address Rail Safety Faster

As leading disability rights organisations, we are calling on Network Rail and the Department for Transport to urgently install missing warning tactile surface from railway platforms in Britain before more lives are needlessly lost.

Last year Cleveland Gervais, a partially sighted man, was tragically killed by an oncoming train after falling from a platform without tactile at Eden Park Station in south-east London. A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), found that the lack of tactile was a likely key factor in Cleveland’s death.

Eleanor Thompson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said “Up to 15% of people falling from platforms are blind or partially sighted. Despite being a fundamental safety measure, around half of mainline railway stations in Britain lack tactile and a contrasting line on platforms. This is completely unacceptable.”

While we welcome Network Rail’s commitment to install tactile across all operational platforms, their current timeframe for completion by 2029 must be urgently brought forward.

Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs, said “The current timeframe from Network Rail is hugely disappointing and doesn’t recognise the urgency of the situation. Tactile is a vital safety measure for everyone. Evidence from America shows us that when tactile was introduced, people falling from platforms was reduced by 65% among those with sight loss and 45% for the general public. We cannot wait until 2029 for platform safety.”

The Department for Transport and Treasury need to also play their part, increasing the pace of funding releases to Network Rail so tactile can be installed in all stations as a matter of urgency.

Stephen Brookes MBE, Rail Policy Adviser to Disability Rights UK added “This major failing in station safety is an issue affecting many disabled passengers. We hear from disabled people with a range of mobility, mental health, cognitive and age-related impairments including motion and movement stability, who feel unsafe on platforms which lack tactile strips. It is critical this is resolved as a matter of priority,”

We also call on the rail industry to update their standards for when tactile should be introduced, as the current protocol of whenever work is carried out, is simply not good enough.

The following organisations support this joint statement

Disability Rights UK

Glaucoma UK

Guide Dogs

Leonard Cheshire

Macular Society

Retina UK

Sense

Thomas Pocklington Trust

The MS Society

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Visionary

 

#WeShallNotBeRemoved

Earlier this week, the UK Disability Arts Alliance marked the first anniversary of it’s #WeShallNotBeRemoved campaign by revealing the findings of a new survey that highlights significant threats to the continued participation of creative deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people in the cultural sector.

The UK Disability Arts Alliance 2021 Survey Report is the first to focus specifically on the impact of the pandemic on disabled people and organisations in arts & culture. The survey reveals a prevalence of homelessness, zero hours contracts and career insecurity amongst the disabled workforce in the cultural sector. It also exposes a lack of trust that access will be maintained for disabled audiences through reopening of venues.

You can read the report by clicking here.

70% of Disabled people feel DWP contracted assessor did not understand their condition: shocking new Z2K research

In April 2021, Z2K surveyed 1,420 Disabled people who have been through the assessment process for disability benefits: PIP, ESA, and  the Limited Capability for Work elements of Universal Credit (UC).

Those surveyed by Z2K were asked to share their insights on the assessment process – including the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) and appeals process – as well as the changes that they would like to see made to the current assessment regime.

They were also asked their opinion on whether the Government’s upcoming Health and Disability Green Paper will deliver on generating desired reform.

Ken Butler, DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser, said: “The findings of this this report are shocking and reveal why the DWP itself has admitted it has lost the trust of Disabled people.

As Z2K conclude, “the assessment processes for disability benefits must be fundamentally reformed if it is to be fit for purpose and able to correctly assess people’s ability to access work or receive support for their disability”.

You can read more by clicking here.

 

Groundswell of support for increasing benefit payments made to Disabled people: Fabian Society report

A new Fabian Society research survey involving a major citizens’ jury and national poll demonstrated strong public support for increasing benefits for Disabled people, carers of disabled people, young people aged 18 to 24, and lone parents who are in work or looking after young children.

It also found that 67% of respondents wanted to keep the £20 per week temporary uplift to Universal Credit.

You can read more on this story by clicking here.

 

Minister previews Disability Green Paper social security reforms

The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, has given details of how the government plans to reform the social security system for Disabled people through its long-delayed Health and Disability Green Paper.

He has also said that the Green Paper, and the also delayed National Disability Strategy, would “possibly, probably” be published together and before the summer recess in July.

You can read more on our website by clicking here.

 

Groundbreaking inquiry questions ‘Whose social care is it anyway?’

The Social Care Future Inquiry ‘Whose Social Care is it Anyway?’ was launched on 27 May 2021.

The inquiry is focused on how to pursue five key changes, which were identified via engagement with over 500 people with experience of social care. Participants were asked to share the extent to which their lives and the support they were able to draw on reflected our vision.

Inquiry convener, Anna Severwright said:

“Starting with the perspectives and insight of people who draw on social care radically changes the discussion.  It brings into perspective issues completely missing from debates in Parliament, on the platforms of Westminster think tanks, the media and even many charities when it comes to the future of social care.”

“Over the coming weeks and months we will be reaching out to people who can help us to craft the solutions that can make our vision a reality”

You can read more, and access a copy of the report, by clicking here.

 

Government urged to act as research shows disabled people were 60% more likely to lose their job during pandemic

The Government has been urged to increase support for disabled people as research shows the pandemic has widened already large gaps in employment rates and pay between disabled people and non-disabled people.

New research by Learning and Work Institute and The Black Stork Charity shows that a growing number of disabled people have been left out of work and struggling to make ends meet since the start of the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, employment opportunities for disabled people had been improving. From 2013 to 2019, the employment rate of disabled people increased by 10 percentage points – an increase of 1.4 million disabled people in work.

But the employment, pay and finances of disabled people have been more negatively affected by the pandemic than many other groups.

You can read more by clicking here.

 

British Sign Language service for Women now available on National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Refuge run the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which provides free, confidential support and information for any women experiencing abuse from a partner, ex-partner or family member.  They have recently launched a British Sign Language interpretation service, to allow Deaf women to communicate with our expert Helpline Advisers through qualified BSL interpreters.

The British Sign Language service is open Monday – Friday from 10am – 6pm and can be accessed on www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/en/bsl. Here you will find a BSL video about the service and how to use it safely. Users can click on the button to connect with an interpreter via a video call, who will then connect her with the Helpline.

Refuge was delighted to work in partnership with SignHealth’s specialist domestic abuse team in shaping this service; they helped develop resources and delivered training for Refuge’s Helpline advisors, to support them in understanding the unique needs of callers who may come through to us on the BSL service.

Women who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing can also receive support through our text-based Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 3pm –10pm. This can be accessed here www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/en/Chat-to-us-online.

 

CQC’s strategy from 2021 – A new strategy for the changing world of health and social care

Launching the strategy, the CQC said: “What we’ve learned from the past five years puts us in a better position for the future. Our new strategy combines this learning and experience and we’ve developed it with valuable contributions from the public, service providers and all our partners. It means our regulation will be more relevant to the way care is now delivered, more flexible to manage risk and uncertainty, and will enable us to respond in a quicker and more proportionate way as the health and care environment continues to evolve.”

You can read more about the strategy by clicking here.