Houses of Parliament with sun setting

What the General Election means for us

(Image copyright Michael D Beckwith 2013)

Parliament returns on Monday with a new Conservative Government and a new Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP.

In the run up to the General Election, we called on the next Government to improve the lives of disabled people by:

  • protecting the value of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) / Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • halving the disability employment gap
  • investing in social care so that all disabled people have the support they need to live as independently as possible.

Halving the disability employment gap

We’re really pleased the Conservatives identified halving the disability employment gap as an important part of realising their objective of full employment. Their manifesto said ‘We will aim to halve the disability employment gap; we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes.’

The BBC have reported that as part of the Government’s plans to achieve full employment, there will be an Employment Bill within the Queen’s Speech that aims to create two million new jobs over the next five years.

We know that disabled people want the same opportunities to work as everyone else, and nine in ten disabled people are in work or have worked in the past. Yet only 48 per cent are currently in work. We will be looking for the Government to ensure that disabled people are at the heart of employment strategies and regional growth plans.

This week we have seen a welcome rise in the number of disabled people in work but the disability employment gap has remained largely unchanged over the last decade, at around 30 per cent.

We have made a number of recommendations on how the Government could increase the disability employment rate by:

  • creating more flexible workplaces
  • ensuring disabled people are connected to regional growth
  • ensuring that all disabled people receive effective and personalised support.

There is also an important economic case for addressing the disability employment gap. A recent report by Scope found that a 10 percentage point increase in the disability employment rate would increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £45 billion by 2030 and also result in a £12billion gain to the public purse.

It’s vital that the Government continues to see addressing the disability employment gap as a key part in achieving full employment, so that disabled people who want and are able to work are supported to find a jobs, stay in work and progress in their careers.

Extra costs payments

Life can cost more if you are disabled and the extra costs faced by disabled people can have a significant impact on disabled people’s living standards. Scope research shows that disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on costs related to their disability. PIP and DLA are payments that are designed to contribute towards these extra costs.

During the election the Conservative Party announced they planned to make £12billion worth of cuts to welfare and there was much speculation on their welfare spending plans.

Last year in his speech at the Conservative Party Conference the Chancellor said that a future Conservative Government would protect DLA and PIP in any freeze on benefits, a commitment that was also in their Manifesto.

We’ll be looking to the Government to protect the value of extra costs payments.

Independent living

Working age disabled people are a third of all social care users. Social care supports disabled people to live independently, work and play an active part in the community.

However levels of unmet need within social care are high, with 97,000 disabled people who would have received social care five years ago, now receiving no support. That is why Scope has called on the Government to introduce a new sustainable funding settlement for social care.

During the General Election there was considerable focus on the conservative party’s commitments on NHS funding, but it’s crucial though that investment in the NHS is not looked at in isolation from social care funding.

Earlier this year the Care and Support Alliance published the findings of a survey of over 800 English GPs which found that almost nine in ten believe reductions in social care services have contributed to pressures in their surgeries.

When the Government sets out their priorities within the Queen’s Speech, we hope to hear about increased and ongoing investment in social care, so that the ambitions of the Care Act, to promote independence and well-being, can be realised.

Find out more about Scope’s campaign to improve living standards (PDF).

4 thoughts on “What the General Election means for us”

  1. I my case they’ve found a simple way of reducing the disability employment gap; stopped me having a disability employment advisor and farmed me out to A4E as if I was able bodied! With a strock of a pen somewhere they cured a lifetime condition of brain damage – they originally diagnosed! They should get the jobcentreplus people into the NHS, everyone would be cured (or dead) a week next Friday!

  2. over 65 forget any help all they want to do is get their grubby hands on your house to sell it for care you have already paid for in 40 yrs of work and get their hands on your bank details to make sure you havent got a penney more than you should

  3. My name is Michael D Beckwith. Years ago I went to university and was doing alright, until I had a nervous breakdown. As well as that I started hearing voices and was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic. My life has been rather bleak since that point.

    One of the ways I decided to make myself feel better and give me a focus in my life was to do a hobby. I decided to give photography ago. At first I as photographing everything that I could, but as time went by I found myself liking architecture. Once a month I go out with my carer and photograph some architecture.

    I sometimes google to see who is using my photographs and for what purpose, purely out of curiosity. Quite a few people use my photographs for various reasons. I googled myself and saw that this article by Scope, and was really happy that one of my photograph of the UK parliament was being by a disability group for a positive purpose of raising disability as an issue politically. As a disabled person, I couldn’t have asked for a better use of my photographs.

    Yours Sincerely

    Michael D Beckwith

    1. Hi Michael – that’s lovely! It’s a beautiful photograph. If you would ever like to write a blog for us about how creativity has helped to get you through some hard times after diagnosis, we’d love to hear from you. Just email community@scope.org.uk

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