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Archived News 2020 - COVID Specials
Adult Social Care Bulletins
Disability Rights UK - News in Brief
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Disabled Campaigners Call For Supermarkets To Scrap Delivery Charges
Disabled campaigners are calling on supermarkets to scrap their delivery charges, to help disabled people and others who have seen food costs rise sharply during the pandemic.

They are asking the chief executives of the seven supermarkets that have provided priority delivery slots during the crisis to drop any charges for delivering shopping and to slash the minimum amount customers have to spend on a delivery to £5.

“It’s all about supermarkets making reasonable adjustments for consumers. The [supermarket] giants should take note and adjust their actions accordingly. Many disabled people cannot get out of the house and shop on the high street and have no choice but to pay supermarket delivery charges. In some cases, people have to make an unenviable choice of heating the home or putting food on the table. Others are being pushed into debt.”

The campaign is directed at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Iceland, Waitrose and Ocado, the supermarkets that provided priority delivery slots during the crisis.

For more information Campaign calls for supermarkets to scrap delivery charges available from https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/campaign-calls-for-supermarkets-to-scrap-delivery-charges/

‘Scrap Social Care Charging’ Campaign
Inclusion London together with other Disabled People’s Organisations including DR UK, has launched a campaign to highlight the devastating impact of social care charging on disabled people.

Thousands of Disabled people are forced to pay for social care out of their benefits. This pushes them into even greater poverty and leaves many with impossible choices. Charging forces many people to stop their social care support altogether.

We believe, along with Inclusion London, that charging is a tax on disability. The campaign is calling on it to be scrapped, or as an interim, calling on the Chancellor to radically increase the amount of money people are left with from benefits before charging is applied to them.

You can find out more about the Scrap Social Care Charging campaign from https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/act-now/scrap-social-care-charging/

A 9-minute campaign video, A Tax on Disability, is available at https://youtu.be/3I2MqxwHui8

High Court Challenge Benefit Uplift Exclusion For Disabled
The High Court is to decide whether it was lawful of the Government not to give nearly two million people on disability benefits the same £1,040 a year increase that it has given Universal Credit claimants.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Government announced a £20 per week increase to the standard allowance of Universal Credit, but this vital increase to support was not extended to those on legacy benefits, the majority of whom are Disabled people.

Two ESA claimants have now challenged this difference in treatment by way of an application to the High Court for judicial review.

They argue that is it discriminatory and unjustified. The High Court has agreed it is arguably unlawful and will decide the case later this year. The claimants have asked for the trial to be heard before the end of July 2021.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said: “By restricting the £20 per week increase only to Universal Credit the Government has discriminated against the millions of Disabled people on other benefits. The judicial review action is great news and if successful will hopefully lead the way for the £20 uplift to be awarded and backdated to all legacy benefit claimants.” Read more here. www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60063&qid=9521040

School Academisation Threat To Disabled Children
Education Minister Gavin Williamson has announced he wants to see an ‘end to pick and mix’ and see more schools become academies and part of Multi-Academy Trusts.

The move is of concern to parents of Disabled children given the statistics on the number of children ‘off-rolled’ (where children leave schools without being excluded) and excluded from academies compared to schools under Local Authority control.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “Children deemed difficult, or those less likely to obtain high academic grades, are often in need of extra support due to hidden, neurological  and behavioural Disabilities such as ADHD and autism spectrum conditions.

“Exclusions happen to the detriment of children’s emotional and educational wellbeing. Rather than focusing on eradicating a ‘pick and mix’ system which gives parents greater choice, the Minister should focus on creating a culture of person-centred inclusive education which embraces diversity and choice. He would do well to remember that schools are there to serve children – all children – regardless of ability, background, or need.”

Care Home Petition Calls For Visits To Be Enshrined In Law
A petition calling for a change in UK law to allow visits to care homes in the event of another lockdown has been signed by almost a quarter of a million people.

Over 230,000 people are calling on the government to ensure that care home residents do not end up isolated again as many have been during the past year.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights led by Harriet Harman is proposing laws to  ensure all residents have access to an “essential care giver” as an extension of the paid care team.

From earlier this week, care home residents have no longer been required to isolate for 14 days after visiting friends and family outdoors or going for a walk. Care home residents are allowed two named regular visitors, but this is guidance, not a right enshrined in law.

The Guardian reports that people are still being denied substantial visits to loved ones in care homes. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60064&qid=9521040 You can sign the petition here. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60065&qid=9521040

Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) survey highlights barriers to work for D/deaf people
New research by the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) has highlighted the challenges faced by deaf people when securing and progressing in work.

The survey, which polled the experiences of D/deaf people in relation to employment and career progression, was carried out at the end of 2020. Among the issues raised by respondents were a lack of deaf awareness amongst employers, communication issues and barriers to voluntary work.

When asked about careers advice, only a quarter of respondents said they had received this in sign language, whilst of those who received careers advice at school less than half (41%) said the careers advisor thought they could do the job they wanted.

When it came to career progression, the majority (60%) of respondents said they had not been given progression opportunities during their career, with several citing a lack of deaf role models within work as a key barrier.

DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “The level of discrimination that this report reveals is truly shocking. That people actively exclude colleagues because they are D/deaf is shameful. This report is a wake up call to careers advisors, employers and colleagues. It is completely unacceptable that D/deaf people are denied opportunities to fulfil their ambitions and contribute fully within the workplace a decade after the Equality Act came into force.”

Train company launches online forum
Avanti West Coast has become the first UK train operator to offer Disabled passengers a dedicated social media forum.

The Accessible Rail Travel with Avanti West Coast ‘Facebook’ group aims to provide a support network to share advice, tips and offer feedback. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=60067&qid=9521040

DR UK’s Rail Ambassador Stephen Brookes said: “I am in favour of any moves by rail companies to improve access to their services for Disabled passengers, and am pleased that Avanti has made this great step forward to enable Disabled people to have more confidence to travel on their services as lock down restrictions ease.

I do though remind Avanti and all train companies that there are a great many Disabled people who either are unable through a range of disability or economic reasons to access 'smart' technology and we must not create a system which only benefits those who can access this."

The forum will be managed by Avanti West Coast’s social media team.

Queen’s Speech Fails To Deliver On Social Care, Democracy, Building And Employment
The Queen’s Speech, effectively the Government’s current ‘to do’ list, has failed to deliver on Boris Johnson’s pledge to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all” which he made when he became Prime Minister in July 2019. Only a passing mention was made of plans to address the social care system. The Prime Minister said that proposals will be brought forward “later in the year”.A health bill will be implementing planned changes to the structure of NHS England for “a more integrated and  efficient health and care system”.

A planning bill is also being introduced to make it easier to build housing and hospitals. Fazilet Hadi said: “The Government has yet to fully grasp why much stronger M-Regs – the rules which say how accessible properties must be – are needed to create truly lifelong housing which takes into account that Disabled people need practical accessibility, not tickbox accessibility.

New-build, affordable modern housing is often small, doesn’t allow for manoeuvrability of wheelchairs and scooters inside, bathrooms are not fit for purpose, and houses built with such adaptations in place from scratch save Councils money down the line, and ensure that all households can accommodate Disabled family members, friends and visitors.

A fifth of the UK’s population is Disabled. DR UK, as part of the HoME coalition, is calling for all new builds to be built to much higher accessibility standards. Cutting red tape to allow a rush of new builds which can’t be accessed by 14 million people is ridiculous.” To view the full news item please use the following link

King’s Fund report paints bleak picture of social care
The King’s Fund’s annual assessment of the state of the social care sector paints an overall picture is of deep decline, with many key indicators continuing to move in the wrong direction.

Between 2015/16 and 2019/20, 120,000 more people requested social care support but around 14,000 fewer people received either long- or short-term support.*

Report author Simon Bottery said: “Following a decade of neglect, there is a continuing gulf between what people need and what they receive.

The report highlights six key actions that will be needed to improve and reform social care in the years ahead:

  1. More money is needed to fund the current system, with an estimated £1.9 billion extra needed simply to meet demand for adult social care by 2023/24.
  2. Eligibility should be widened so more people are entitled to support.
  3. Workforce reform is essential to deliver better pay, training and development for staff.
  4. People need more control over the services they use, with government action needed to increase the number and quality of direct payments and support other ways of promoting choice and control.
  5. Prevention should take centre stage, with more investment in services such as reablement.
  6. Carers have taken on an even greater burden during the pandemic and need more support.


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.

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

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