In just six weeks’ time voters will go to the polls to have their say in the General Election.
Today we are setting out our calls for the next government – commitments and changes we are asking for so that by 2022 disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else: Everyday equality.
We know that in 2017, life is still much harder for many disabled people than it needs to be. Too often disabled people can’t access the support they need to at home, in education or work and face negative attitudes, extra costs and pressures on family life.
Action is needed in a range of areas which is why we would like the next government to take a cross-government approach to disability which tackles the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in society.
Today we are calling for action in three main areas:
Improving disabled people’s work opportunities
Many disabled people want to work but continue to face huge barriers without the support they need to find, stay and progress in work. The disability employment gap – the difference between the employment rates for disabled and non disabled people – has stood at over 30 percentage points for over a decade and less than half of disabled people are in work.
We are calling on the next government to commit to halving the disability employment gap and report publicly on the progress it is making towards this target. We also want to see reforms to the support disabled people receive in and out of work, including the Work Capability Assessment, changes to sick pay and ending benefit sanctions. It is vital that the government also provide better careers advice, work experience and opportunities for apprenticeships for young disabled people.
Ensuring disabled people have support to live independently
Social care plays an important role in supporting many disabled people to live independently, work, build relationships and be part of their local communities. However, we know that over half of disabled social care users aren’t getting the support they need to live independently. We believe the next government should invest in social care so that disabled people of all ages get the support they need.
It’s also vital that the government tackles the barriers disabled people face getting online as just 25 per cent of disabled adults have never used the internet compared to 8 per cent of non-disabled adults. The next government should commit to improving digital skills and increasing digital accessibility.
Improving disabled people’s financial security
Disabled people spend on average £550 a month on costs related to their impairment or condition. Extra costs may include specialist equipment or higher heating bills.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is vital in helping disabled people meet some of these costs. Many disabled people face difficulties when applying for PIP and the assessment decision is often overturned at a later date.
We would like to see the next government protect the value of PIP and develop a new assessment that more accurately identifies the extra costs disabled people face.
Disabled people often have negative experiences as consumers and receive a poor service from businesses. That’s despite disabled people’s households spending £249 billion a year. Therefore, we are calling on businesses and regulators to improve the experiences of disabled customers and give greater consideration to how they can support them.
There are 13 million disabled people in Britain – a hugely significant number of votes – and 89 per cent of voting age disabled people have said they will vote at the next election. We are calling on all candidates to listen to and engage with disabled people and for whoever is next in government to deliver that strategy which will achieve everyday equality for disabled people.
Throughout the election look out for opportunities to engage with your local candidates at events, hustings and talk to them about what everyday equality means for you.
Find out more about how you can register to vote in this election in our latest blog and share on social media what everyday equality means for you by using the hashtag #Everydayequality.