Disability Right UK Newsletter – Channel 4 Subtitles, Accessible Cities & More

Call on Government to tackle employment discrimination

A Disability Employment Charter has been launched, supported by disability organisations, trade unions and academics. The Charter sets out areas for Government action to tackle the shocking disability employment gap. There is almost a 30% gap between the employment rate of Disabled and non-disabled people. There is also a 19.6% disability pay gap. The pandemic has seen Disabled workers disproportionately negatively impacted.

Disabled people face a range of barriers in finding work, progressing in work and remaining in work when a disability is acquired. The Charter asks Government to build on the limited measures included in the National Disability Strategy by increasing disability focused employment programmes; improving Access to Work; putting time limits on making decisions on meeting reasonable adjustments; strengthening the Disability Confident scheme; and introducing mandatory disability work force monitoring.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Disabled people face a range of hurdles in finding and progressing in work, which just shouldn’t be there. The Charter simply and powerfully sets out the concerted actions that Government needs to take to move the dial forward. It’s not enough to tinker round the edges, we need a bold plan to bring down the barriers.”

Read the Charter here Link to Charter and signatories pdf in other email

Austerity cuts killed tens of thousands from 2010 onwards

Austerity cuts from 2010 onwards have killed tens of thousands more people in England than previously thought, according to a new large study.

Research by the University of York published in BMJ Open found that the joint impact of cuts to healthcare, public health and social care since 2010 found that the cuts were linked to 57,550 more deaths than would have been expected between 2010 and 2014.

The study also found that life expectancy improvements have declined since David Cameron’s austerity measures were introduced in 2010.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the findings were shocking. He told The Guardian: “The test of ‘levelling up’ will be ministers properly funding social care and public health to now tackle these inequalities.”

The University of York study is the first to jointly analyse the effect of the significant slowdown in NHS, public health and social care spending on death rates in England.

Researchers said real social care spending rose by 2.2% per head of population between 2001-02 and 2009-10, and fell by 1.57% between 2010-11 and 2014-15. This loss of social care funding caused 23,662 additional deaths.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “This study isn’t front page news. Society has become immune to such shocking statistics. As the government makes noises about a move back to austerity to pay for Covid measures, it needs to stop and think about the devastation they may cause to the poorest people in society, many of whom are Disabled. Disabled living comes at a premium of over £500 a month. Far too many of us can’t make ends meet as it is. Austerity is inhumane. The Chancellor has recently spoken about how inhumanity can rob us of the people we love the most. Now is a time for compassionate budgets which put people and their needs first.”

Hybrid working benefits Disabled people, but risks poorer development opportunities

Nine out of ten workers don’t want to return to pre-Covid patterns, preferring working remotely for three days a week according to new research on making hybrid work inclusive.

The University of Lancaster research found that Disabled workers, women, parents and those with caring responsibilities are at risk of facing particular challenges when working remotely, due to isolation from the office and potentially missing out on opportunities for learning and development.

The study highlighted how line manager support for remote working is considered particularly important by Disabled workers, with 61% of Disabled workers indicating they felt comfortable asking for remote working because their line manager was supportive of it.

DR UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said ”Working from home and working flexibly is welcomed by thousands of Disabled people. It allows us to avoid the challenges of public transport, better integrate work with health and personal issues and maintain our independence.

This research highlights that flexibility may have a negative impact on our career progression. Action needs to be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen.”

The University has developed a guide for employers which outlines the steps organisations can take to realise the full range of benefits while mitigating the risks presented through a transition to remote or hybrid work, as well as a briefing for policymakers.

Doctor brings landmark Covid care home legal action against Government

A doctor of virology is bringing a landmark legal action against the government, Public Health England and NHS England over their handling of Covid in care homes.

Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris both lost their care home resident fathers to the virus during the pandemic.

The test case argues that the government failed to protect care home residents from the three principal routes of transmission of Covid: infection from other residents, external visitors, and care home staff.

Dr Gardner said: “It is very clear, whatever Matt Hancock may have said, the residents of care homes were not provided with a protective ring. He knew they were the most at risk and yet he issued a policy that exposed them to the risk of losing their lives. Many did. My father did.”

Over 20,000 care home residents, including Disabled people, died from Covid between March and June 2020.

Barrister Coppel QC told the hearing at the High Court: “This claim is a legal challenge to the government’s failure to protect care home residents and to the key policies and decisions which led to the shocking death toll. The most notorious of these policies is that of mass discharge of around 25,000 elderly and/or disabled patients from NHS hospitals into care homes… That policy has been described by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee as “reckless and negligent” and “appalling”.” Read more here.

Most accessible parking by city

findandfundmycar.com has looked at data gathered through freedom of information requests sent to over 43 English city councils to find out which ones are the most accessible for parking.

Out of those contacted, 27 were able to provide the information requested, revealing the following data:

Across these areas there are 139,195 council parking spaces, 3.89% of which (5,414 spaces) are for blue badge holders.

Chelmsford City Council was revealed as the most accessible with 21.67% (710) of its total 3,276 parking spaces being allocated for blue badge holders.

Oxford City Council is the least accessible district with only 1.7% (90) of its total 5,295 spaces being allocated for blue badge holders.

View the rest of the data in findandfundmycar.com’s blog post.

Channel 4 subtitles won’t run until November

Channel 4 subtitles, signing and audio description are unlikely to return to TV until mid-November, after a catastrophic fault knocked broadcast services offline in September.

The missing services have angered d/Deaf and visually impaired viewers. Ofcom has received over 500 complaints.

Channel 4 is building a new system from scratch, which it says will fix the problem more quickly than its current prediction of mid-November.

The broadcaster said: “Channel 4 would like to apologise to viewers for not currently being able to provide access services. We realise how frustrating this is for our viewers.”

Some shows will have subtitles on catch up service All4 from this week. But there is currently no scope for audio description or sign language services. “These services were irretrievably lost during the incident and we won’t be able to restore them until we move to the new system we are building,” Channel 4 said. “Clearly, if we can do anything to speed up this process, we will.”

Booster jab uptake too slow

The latest data from the NHS shows that just 3.7 million people in England have been given a third jab under the booster programme, offering them the fullest protection against Covid this winter.

8.5 million people are now eligible for a booster if they want it, including 4.8 million who have had their second dose at least six months ago who have yet to receive a top-up. The shortfall has been growing by about 800,000 a week as more people become eligible.

DR UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “Many Disabled people are still living in isolation, now through personal choice as the government has stopped all shielding support. Cases are rising, and the uptake of boosters remains worryingly low.

Charities representing people with Blood cancers and kidney disease are calling on the NHS to do more to ensure that people who are immunosuppressed and need a third jab for added protection, receive it as quickly as possible.

Read more here.