Last week voters went to the polls to have their say in the General Election and on Tuesday MPs returned to a Parliament that looks different to the one they left a little more than eight weeks ago.
Following the election, the Conservatives, whilst remaining the largest party, lost their majority in Parliament. They are now looking to come to an agreement with the DUP, whereby the DUP will support them on key votes such as the Budget
Whatever happens, it is crucial that the Government and Parliament do not lose sight of addressing the barriers that prevent disabled people from taking fully part in society.
We know that in 2017, life is still much harder for many disabled people than it needs to be. This is something we believe the Government should urgently address.
We want the Government to listen to disabled people
The Prime Minister has spoken about creating a country where no one is left behind and where the challenges people face in their everyday lives are addressed. And in their manifesto the Conservatives said that they will confront the burning injustice of disability discrimination.
We want the new Government to listen to disabled people and make sure everyday equality for disabled people becomes a reality. Everyday equality is about ensuring that disabled people have the same opportunities in life as everybody else.
What we’re asking the Government
Before the election, we set out our calls to the next Government. As Parliament returns and ahead of the Queens Speech next week we are calling on the Government to:
Improve disabled people’s work opportunities by removing the barriers to work disabled people face. The Conservative manifesto made a commitment to get one million more disabled people in work over the next ten years and to improve disabled people’s employment support. We have been campaigning over the last few years for the disability employment gap to be halved and for support for disabled people both in and out of work to be improved. We want to see a complete overhaul of the Work Capability Assessment as it does not currently identify all the barriers disabled people face to work.
Enable disabled people to live independently by increasing investment in social care and reforming the social care system so it better supports working age disabled people. Social care was a big issue at the election and all parties have talked about the need for change. However, we are concerned that working age disabled people have not been part of the public debate on this issue. Working age disabled people represent a third of social care users and we are clear that they must be listened to and that support must work for them.
Improve disabled people’s financial security. We know that life costs more if you are disabled. Disabled people on average spend £550 a month on costs related to their impairment or condition. The Conservative manifesto says the Government wants to “reduce the extra costs that disability can incur”.
We believe the Government should protect the value of disability benefits and develop a new Personal Independence Payment assessment which accurately identifies extra costs. It is also crucial that action is taken to ensure that the experiences of disabled consumers is improved. Disabled people’s households spend £249 billion a year, but all too often they receive a poor service from businesses.
Over the coming months as the Government sets out its plans, we will be working with MPs of all parties to ensure that these issues remain a priority and continue to campaign for everyday equality for disabled people.