Disability Rights UK Newsletter

Disabled people make up nearly half of the most deprived working-age adults in the country

Important new research examining the living standards and health of working-age Disabled people and disability benefit claimants in the UK has been published by the Institute of Financial Studies (IFS).

Two of its key findings are:

People on disability benefits have much higher rates of relative income poverty than working-age adults in general (29% versus 20% in 2019-20). However, this measure of poverty does not take into account the fact that those on disability benefits likely have higher costs of living due to disability. So that this gap understates the true difference in the rate of low living standards

Disability is strongly related to material deprivation. Close to half (44%) of those in the most deprived tenth of the population are Disabled, compared with 18% among the whole working-age population. Read more on the IFS report here.

Grenfell Inquiry hears how victims died

The Grenfell Tower fire Inquiry has started to hear the details about how individual people died, a little over five years since the fire killed 72 people, 15 of whom were Disabled.

The Inquiry recorded the causes of death, last words and movements of those who died, starting with an account of eight people who died on the 23rd floor.

Mohamed Neda, 57, known as Saber, originally from Kabul, had fled the Taliban in 1998. He jumped to his death, landing in a playground after having stayed with four women who were stranded because two of them were Disabled. Read more on The Guardian website.

Terms of reference agreed for Covid Inquiry

The terms of reference have been agreed for the Covid Inquiry, and now contain reference to people with protected characteristics. When the draft terms were first published, six major UK DPOs including DR UK told the Government that the experiences of Disabled people “must not be airbrushed from history” and called for a specific term of reference to Disabled people to ensure that the Inquiry would specifically address the impacts of the virus upon our community. Six in ten deaths from Covid were those of Disabled people. Read more here.

Daily Mirror: Disabled Britain week

This week, the Daily Mirror newspaper has been running a series of features under the banner Disabled Britain: Doing It For Ourselves. The series, curated by award winning Disabled writer, Rachel Charlton-Daley, brings together content written by Disabled writers about the issues that affect our lives. This is the first time (that we are aware of) that a major national newspaper has run such a series – using Disabled voices en masse to create a series of sustained content. Many of the stories also contain audio files of the written versions to provide more access.

Disability Rights UK has been heavily involved in advising about and contributing to this series. This week, we are using e-news to amplify the Disabled voices used within the paper. Read all the stories here.

590 suicides between 2010 and 2013 linked to welfare reform – Deaths by Welfare

The Department for Work and Pensions has failed to fix systematic flaws in the disability benefits system that potentially led to thousands of deaths, according to a new report in the Daily Mirror.

The report highlights data gathered by the Deaths by Welfare project (of which Disability News Service’s John Pring is a part) which has gathered data about the number of times the DWP was told about life-threatening systemic flaws, by academics, coroners and its own researchers over the past 30 years.

The Deaths by Welfare Timeline brings together for the first time the investigations linking the DWP and its social security reforms with the deaths of Disabled benefit claimants, documenting the “cumulative harm” and “slow bureaucratic violence” that has led to countless suicides and other deaths, particularly in the post-2010 austerity era.

One piece of research connects just one area of the 2010 coalition government’s welfare reforms with an extra 590 suicides between 2010 and 2013. Read the Mirror story hereRead an opinion piece on welfare deaths here.

“90% of disability benefit fraud claims are false”

9 in 10 of all reports about disability benefit fraud to the DWP hotline turn out to be false. Maybe it’s linked to the fact that those with psychological disabilities seem to suffer disproportionately from the government’s ‘fitness to work’ assessments. It may even have something to do with a study which found that since austerity measures began in 2010, hundreds of Disabled people have died, either abandoned or at their own hand, due to the “slow bureaucratic violence” of a state which has falsely claimed, for centuries, that the Disabled are too much of a burden. Read Fleet Street Fox’s article here.

Job opportunities for blind people have fallen – Lord Blunkett

I’m often asked: “what are you most proud of in terms of your time in government”?

My answer is: “many things”. From my days as Education and Employment Secretary 25 years ago, through to those as Home Secretary when the events of September 11, 2001, shook the world, and the Twin Towers in New York collapsed to the ground after a terrorist attack.

But the truth is, the most lasting impact of both my time government, and now as a member of the House of Lords, is simply this: to demonstrate that someone with a defined disability can not only work on equal terms but reach the highest levels of government in this country.

From one in three adults of working age having a job, we have fallen, as a nation, to just one in four. The situation for people with disabilities of all kinds is bad enough, but for those without sight it is deplorable.

What’s worse, is that this recent survey found that a quarter of employers weren’t willing to make adaptions for a blind person to take up work with them, or to manage the practicalities.

But there are thousands of blind and partially sighted employees doing phenomenal jobs in every part of our economy. Read more from Lord Blunkett here.

“It’s appalling that less than 1% of MPs are Disabled – things need to change”

There have never been enough Disabled people in public life – and the Covid pandemic has only made a bad situation worse.

Take the very heart of our democracy, the House of Commons, where only a handful of Members of Parliament are Disabled.

At the last election, it seemed there were five MPs who had described themselves as Disabled – Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck, Marsha de Cordova and Marie Rimmer, and Tories Robert Halfon and Paul Maynard.

With 650 MPs in total, appallingly that is less than 1%. Contrast that with the one in five people in the UK who consider themselves Disabled. Read more on Disabled democracy here.

All the barriers that Disabled people face everywhere 

Read DR UK’s Media and Communications Manager, Anna Morell’s day in the life feature explaining why we need the social model of disability across all of society.

Personal stories from the Mirror’s Disabled Britain week

Read about Evelyn Glennie’s experiences of being deaf. Read about Penny Pepper’s experiences of sex as a Disabled person. Read about Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston’s experiences of being Disabled. Read Dr Hannah Barham-Brown’s experiences of being a Disabled person. Read Dr Amy Kavanagh’s experiences of being blind. Read Phoebe Snedker’s views on breaking down stereotypes.