Disability Rights UK - News In Brief

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Disability Rights UK - News in Brief
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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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60252&qid=9584218

Charities Call For 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.

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

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.

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.

#WeShallNotBeRemoved
In May 2021, 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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60253&qid=9584218

DWP Contracted Assessor Did Not Understand Disability 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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60254&qid=9584218

Support For Increasing Benefit Payments 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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60255&qid=9584218

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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60256&qid=9584218

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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60257&qid=9584218

Research Shows Disabled People 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.https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60258&qid=9584218

CQC's New Strategy For 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. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60261&qid=9584218

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.

Lack Of BSL Covid Briefings – High Court Challenge
The government’s lack of sign language interpreters during Covid briefings has been challenged in the High Court. Katie Rowley from Leeds brought a judicial review against the Cabinet Office. The case was heard online on 16 June.

Katie, who is deaf, is arguing that that the government is breaching its obligations to make its broadcasts accessible to deaf people under the Equality Act and that the government breached its obligations under the public sector equality duty by not providing live on-platform British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation for its scientific briefings.

When the claim was issued, Katie was 25 weeks pregnant and particularly anxious to protect the life and health of her unborn son. British Sign Language is Katie’s first language, she cannot follow conversations or access spoken information without an interpreter. She is also visually impaired and dyslexic.

There was no BSL interpreter at the public briefings at all for the first two weeks of the pandemic, governing all the key announcements regarding suspension of schools, closure of public spaces, lockdown, shielding and furlough.

Around April 2020, the Cabinet Office arranged for the ‘in screen’ interpreter to be broadcast on its social media channels through the Number 10 Twitter feed and YouTube channels. However, the ‘in screen’ option continued to fail.

Katie said: “The pandemic has been a very worrying time for everyone but to be pregnant and unable to understand the information coming from the government made it absolutely terrifying. Then, Government Covid briefings were essential for everyone to know what was going on and how to best keep safe – yet they were not accessible to the tens of thousands of people who have BSL as their first language. The late inclusion of an in-screen interpreter, which was then inconsistently available, is just not good enough.”

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “127,000 people use BSL in England. D/deaf people have been utterly failed during the pandemic in terms of their access to critical information. 25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act became law, it is ridiculous that cases like this still need to be brought to court because reasonable adjustments are not being made as standard.” https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2021/june/lack-bsl-covid-briefings-%E2%80%93-high-court-challenge

Disabled Workers Were Treated Unfairly During The Pandemic
30 per cent of Disabled workers say that they’ve been treated unfairly at work during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new poll published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC). The survey reveals that many Disabled people report that they experienced significant barriers in the workplace before the pandemic, and that Covid-19 has made things worse for them.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, disabled workers were hugely underrepresented and underpaid in the labour market. The employment gap between disabled and non-disabled workers was 28 per cent. Disabled workers are paid 20 per cent less than non-disabled peers.

Recent government figures show that redundancy rates are now 62 per cent higher for disabled workers One in 13 (eight per cent) said they were subjected to bullying and/or harassment, being ignored or excluded, singled out for criticism or being monitored excessively at work. One in eight (twelve per cent) said they were concerned their disability had affected their chances of a promotion in the future.

One in eight (13 per cent) said they were concerned their disability had affected how their performance would be assessed by their manager.

The TUC says that any proposed National Strategy for Disabled People. must include mandatory disability pay gap reporting, the enforcement of reasonable adjustments and a stronger legal framework for adjustments.  https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60342&qid=9604915

Young Disabled People Tell Minister What’s Wrong With Employment Support
Earlier this week, a group of young Disabled people spoke to Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People, about how employment support needs to change. The meeting, organised by Disability Rights UK was held in the lead up to the Government’s soon to be published Green Paper on disability, benefits and work.

The Minister wanted to hear views on support into employment and the Access to Work Scheme. The young Disabled people spoke about the need for careers advice to start early, for Job Centres to have better links with employers, and for more practical assistance to be provided with job search. Whilst they acknowledged that Access to Work could work well, they also pointed to the many instances when it failed, leaving people in new jobs without the equipment and support they needed.

Women Go Undiagnosed, Accused Of ‘Hysteria’ - CII Report
Disabled women with chronic illness are frequently gaslit by medical professions, undiagnosed, and accused of hysteria, according to Chronic Illness Inclusion (CII).

The data will be submitted to the Department for Health and Social Care for its Women’s Health Strategy consultation.

CII received nearly 800 response to a survey about the healthcare experiences of disabled women with energy-limiting chronic illness and chronic pain.

Catherine Hale, who heads CII said: “We had no funding to do it, but the issue of what’s called ‘medical gaslighting’ and the damage it does, not just medically but on the whole of our lives, is probably the most burning injustice for the chronic illness community.

“In this report we argue that the NHS’ construct of Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS), which conflates MUS with somatisation and hysteria, produces systemic disbelief in our lived experience of illness and impairment. And our survey findings demonstrate the damage that this systemic disbelief has on the whole of our lives, including by creating barriers to disability equality and inclusion.

“The MUS framework and related services in the NHS are explicitly about cutting healthcare costs by diverting patients who take up too much GP surgery time away from biomedical investigation and into psychologist-led services where their physical symptoms are systemically discredited. There is virtually no evaluation of these services from the service-user perspective. Others have critiqued the MUS construct from within the philosophical tradition of ‘epistemic injustice’ and bioethics

“This report is just 10 pages, as per the DHSC limit, but we hope its findings will stimulate further service user-led research into this hidden area of injustice for disabled women.”

Disabled Student Granted Permission To Legally Challenge Rules Excluding Him From Universal Credit
Flinn Kays, a Disabled psychology student, has been granted permission to apply for judicial review of the Universal Credit 2020 Regulations which amend the 2013 regulations significantly and exclude Disabled students like him from entitlement to the Universal Credit (UC).

He currently receives the enhanced rate of both the mobility and daily living components of PIP, but is having to use that money to meet his general living expenses.

However, he calculates that he may be entitled to £899.11 a month UC. But in line with the new regulations, his own UC claim was refused and he was not invited to a work capability assessment (WCA).

Flinn, aged 18, submits that new regulations that bar the path to Disabled students having a WCA and thus claiming universal credit, are unlawful.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:

“The granting of this new judicial review is great news and hopefully will be as successful as the original - R (Kauser and JL) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

“Following representations by DR UK, both the EHRC, and the Work and Pensions Committee of MPs have previously recommended that receipt of PIP or DLA should mean - as for ESA and Housing Benefit - that Disabled students be treated as having a limited capacity for work for UC purposes.

“Student finance for Disabled students is inadequate as shown by the fact that many would qualify under the UC means test if they were only eligible. In addition, student finance is often unavailable during the whole summer vacation.  

“That new regulations blocking UC entitlement were so swiftly introduced last year casts doubt on the Government’s commitment to ensure Disabled people’s access to education. In addition, in turn it casts doubt as to the Government’s commitment to increase the number of Disabled people in employment.”  https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2021/june/disabled-student-granted-permission-legally-challenge-rules-excluding-him-universal

Valuable and Vulnerable – Community Catalysts report
Community Catalysts has released its findings from a six month project working with people who were formally or informally shielded and their supporters in six areas of the Midlands and South. The focus of the project is positive, shining a light on what makes people valuable, and challenging the rhetoric around being vulnerable. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60400&qid=9625276

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