2014 is a big year for Scope. Our new strategy is all about changing society and we have ambitious plans to make society a better place for disabled people. 20 years ago, we changed our name in a bid to take a stand against bad attitudes to disability. By ditching the name Spastics Society, we helped knock that insult out of circulation and got people questioning attitudes to disability.
But 20 years on, life is still tougher than it needs to be for disabled people who want the same things as everyone else. We’ve come a long way since our name change but there is still further to go. There are still major issues when it comes to attitudes and these go hand in hand with policies and practises that undermine living standards.
Which is why our new report published today, Better living, higher standards: improving the lives of disabled people by 2020 (PDF), focuses on disabled people’s living standards and sets out clear recommendations for change.
Living standards are about a whole range of things that matter to people. It’s about opportunities to work, get out and about, and see friends and family.Alongside financial assets, income and jobs, we all depend on having skills we can use to learn or work. We rely on public services and on positive attitudes from family, friends and the wider community in which we live. All of these and more make up living standards for all of us.
Our report reveals that:
- 42% of disabled people told us that they had lost out on a job because of the way employers perceived their impairment “every time” or “a lot of the time”.
- Half of disabled people say that services they receive do not enable them to take part in community life.
- Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people, and half (49%) of disabled people use credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items including clothing and food. Disabled people are three times more likely to draw on doorstep loans.
- Disabled adults spend an average of £550 per month on costs related to their disability.
The recent recession has had an impact on living standards for many people. But for disabled people, the struggle to make ends meet has always been a fact of life. As the economy recovers we are calling for all political parties to use this opportunity to make sure once and for all that disabled people can contribute to economic growth and have the same chances as everyone else.
If we want to improve disabled people’s living standards we need to fix the problem of extra costs, poor employment opportunities and poor social care. We also need to shift the attitudes that create many of these problems.We have to see these areas as linked – we can’t fix one without the other; and we need government action that ultimately improves disabled people’s living standards.
Let’s create a society in which the extra costs some disabled people face – such as paying for specialist equipment or for taxis due to inaccessible transport systems, are no longer a barrier to making an economic contribution or to social participation.
We are calling for the value of extra costs payments such as Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments to be protected. And in June 2014, Scope will be launching a Commission investigating the drivers of disability related costs and making recommendations on how to tackle them.
Let’s create a society in which all types of work are available to everyone; a society in which disabled people have opportunities to be drivers of, and benefit from, new employment opportunities arising from economic growth.
We are calling for increased options to prevent people slipping out of the labour force unnecessarily and for new opportunities created through strategies for economic growth, such as City Deals, to work with, and include disabled people.
Let’s make sure all disabled people get the support they need to live as independently as possible
Let’s create a society in which more disabled people have the opportunity to live independently in the communities they choose and in which more working age disabled people can afford the care and support they need to live an independent life.
We are calling for a new financial settlement in the next Comprehensive Spending Review that ensures that everyone who is eligible for social care will get the support they need to live independently in the community. We also want to see greater focus on improving quality of care and support mechanisms, including through the integration of strategies on employment, health and social care to keep people in work, living in their own homes and preventing crisis.
The recovery gives us an opportunity to think differently: employers, public services, government, all of us. It’s an opportunity to make society work better for disabled people.
Let’s make sure disabled people aren’t left behind as the economy recovers.