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We're all about changing society for the better, so that disabled people and their families can have the same opportunities as everyone else.

How can the next government ensure disabled people have the support to live independently?

We want the next government to deliver Everyday Equality with disabled people. It must put the interests of disabled people at the heart of its agenda, and deliver meaningful change over the next five years to tackle the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in society.

A key part of Everyday Equality is having the right support to live the life of your own choosing. However, there are still a range of barriers that make this difficult for disabled people, from inadequate social care provision, to inaccessible physical environments and digital exclusion.

That’s why we are calling on the next government to ensure disabled people have the support to live independently.

Increasing investment in social care

Social care is an essential public service that supports disabled people to get up, get dressed and get out of the house.

Around a third of social care users in England are working-age disabled people. However, we know that more than half are not receiving the right care to support them to live independently.

Text says, Over half of disabled people using social care can't get the support they need to live independently

This means not enough disabled care users are getting the support they need to live independently, work, volunteer, and live full, meaningful lives.

In order to ensure disabled people are getting the right level of support, it is crucial that the issue of inadequate funding in social care is addressed. Whilst we have seen some recent investment, the funding gap in our social care system is estimated to rise to £2.8 billion by 2020.

That’s why we are calling on the next government to increase investment in social care so that disabled people of all ages are able to access the support they need to live independent lives.

Improving access to everyday services  

Living independently means being to have choice and control over your life, whether as a consumer, whilst travelling, or whilst socialising.

However, we know that disabled people often face barriers in accessing day-to-day markets, services and amenities.

For instance, less than a quarter of disabled people think the accessibility of pubs, restaurants, clubs and shops has improved since 2012. In the digital world, 25 per cent of disabled adults have never used the internet compared to 6 per cent of non-disabled adults, often due to a lack of digital skills or inaccessible websites. This means disabled people are more likely to miss out on the best deals and offers which are commonly found online.

We want the next government to ensure equal access to goods and services for disabled people by increasing compliance with the Equality Act, and tackling the digital divide between disabled people and non-disabled people.

Tell us what living independently means to you  

You can read more about our priorities for the next government and how you can register to vote in this election.

What does living independently mean to you? What would getting the right support from social care enable you to do? Email the stories team and tell us your experience – stories@scope.org.uk 

You can also join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #EverydayEquality.

How mindfulness helped me become more resilient

Milo is Scope’s Film and Media officer and has seen first hand the massive benefits practicing mindfulness can have. In this blog he looks at his own childhood struggles and how he thinks practising mindfulness may have helped him growing up. 

As a child my mind was a noisy place.

Sometimes I was treated badly by other kids because I would cry a lot of the time or would behave in ways they saw as strange. I just never seemed to develop that thick skin or the ability to fit in.

At secondary school I made a conscious decision (in hindsight a very bad decision) to put my sensitivity to rest. I started playing the part of the ‘confident cool kid’. It came as a total shock to me that people believed this facade at first, but they did!

A young boy smiling with the Disney character
A young Milo visits Disneyland Paris

I built up an external identity, patched together out of all the things I wanted to be and all the things I thought other people liked. I thought I was a pretty cool teenager. Fast forward eight years however, and cracks started to appear in this makeshift armor.

As it turned out the eureka solution of my adolescence wasn’t a suit of armor, it was a cage. University and immense social pressure exposed this. I tried various things to remedy my feelings of isolation and anxiety to no avail, and experienced several years in a dark place. It wasn’t until a particularly dark patch that I was given a book on mindfulness.

Building my resilience with mindfulness

It’s is not about doing yoga, going vegan or becoming ‘enlightened’. In fact, it couldn’t be more simple. Anyone can do it, anywhere, anytime – it’s just about directing your whole attention to the present moment.

Focusing on the ‘here and now’ can be an amazingly effective way of combating stress and anxiety. In these agitated states the brain tends to run away with itself, obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. When we devote ourselves to the present, whether it’s eating a tasty meal, feeling the way our limbs move or just sitting and listening to all the sounds around us, we give our brain a break and unload a little bit of stress each time.

It’s a cumulative process and the longer you practise mindfulness, even just a few minutes a day, the stronger your resilience and your ability to navigate stressful situations that might have overwhelmed you before. Don’t get me wrong, stress and anxiety aren’t a huge issue in moderation. Most of us however will experience far more stress than is useful because of the pressures of our lives. Mindfulness won’t teach you to never feel stress, but, by being present moment to moment, we can start to recognize and then unlearn our negative thought patterns.

Me today

Though I’ve now developed ways to increase my resilience, life is still sometimes a struggle. However committed I am to engaging mindfully with the world, I still swim against old habits. But, the regular practise of mindfulness, my safety net, means I have richer relationships with the people around me and I have never felt stronger and more true to who I am.

Knowing the progress I have made within just a few years, I can only begin to imagine how much greater these benefits would be if they had been part of my early education. The younger you are the fewer bad habits you have, to ‘unlearn’, the more wholeheartedly you can embrace mindfulness and the lighter the burden of life.  I know that if I’d started practising mindfulness as a child my resilience would have deep foundations and my self-belief would be indestructible. Instead I’m a bit like someone who learnt to swim as an adult. Sure I can stay afloat, but I’ll never be a mermaid.

Mindful Monsters

So resilience, I’ve worked out, is pretty important. Scope have years of experience supporting disabled people and their families build resilience in their lives. Whether as a parent, at the point of their disabled child’s diagnosis, or as a young disabled person, having the right tools to gain independence. Scope think it’s so important in fact, that resilience is a headline in their new five year strategy.

And that’s why Scope have launched Mindful Monsters, which is a fun, new way for all parents to develop resilience and kindness in their children, whilst supporting disabled people and their families through a monthly donation.

Families receive a set of activity cards to their door each month, giving their children important life skills, while spending quality time together. There are four themes to explore: relaxation, creativity, positivity and concentration. Fun, quick, easy, and as Mindful Monsters is inspired by mindfulness, the activities come with all its brilliant benefits.

I’m really excited about Scope’s Mindful Monsters and how it can help children build resilience into their lives, it’s exactly what a younger me needed!

Find out more at mindfulmonsters.co.uk.

 

We want to show disability discrimination the red card

We’re teaming up with Virgin Media to highlight disability discrimination in football grounds.

New research shows that disabled football fans feel excluded from live games. Eight in ten people who attend football stadiums across the UK say they have experienced some form of discrimination such as abusive language and negative attitudes from other fans and other issues resulting from their disability.

As a result, the majority 62% of disabled fans said these experiences had stopped them from going to a live match again.Text reads: 62% of disabled fans that have experienced discrimination said it stopped them from going to a match again"

To highlight the issue and put disabled fans at the heart of the game, Virgin Media is donating its shirt sponsorship of Southampton FC to Scope for the Saints home match against Manchester United FC next Wednesday (17 May).

This special one-off activity forms part of Virgin Media’s partnership with Scope to help transform the lives of disabled people, and to date, the company has donated £1 million to Scope.

Together with Virgin Media, we’re calling on fans and clubs and governing bodies to help improve the experiences of disabled fans at grounds across the UK and deliver everyday equality for disabled people.

Football is our national game and should bring people together. We know that large numbers of fans want everyday equality and that means an inclusive game where discrimination of any kind isn’t tolerated. Disabled fans shouldn’t feel forced out of the stadium.

Side-lined in the stands

The survey reveals disabled football fans feel unwelcome in the terraces because of the reception they receive from some non-disabled fans.

The findings show that nearly 40% of disabled supporters who go to matches say they have experienced negative attitudes from other fans and 29% said they had been victim of verbal abuse.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of disabled football fans think the football industry needs to do more to prevent abuse and discrimination towards disabled people.Text reads: "62% of disabled fans think that the football industry needs to do more to prevent abuse and discrimination towards disabled people"

This is also backed by a separate poll of non-disabled fans who go to matches, where more than half (52%) think more should be done to prevent discrimination towards disabled people at football matches.

Disabled fans want a better experience

The poll has also found that football clubs could do more to improve the experiences disabled fans have at live games.

Less than half of disabled fans (43%) said their club had staff who are well trained in disabled fans’ needs, while only 42% said their club had a zero-tolerance statement on abuse for example, which may cover the use of negative language. More than a third (38%) of disabled fans who go to matches said a lack of appropriate facilities at other stadiums stop them from going to an away game.

More than half of non-disabled football fans think more should be done to make clubs more accessible for disabled fans.

Gold medal hero backs campaign

The shirt-swap is being backed by Paralympic gold medallist and avid football fan, Richard Whitehead MBE.

Richard will help coach five Southampton supporters for a penalty shoot-out during half time at the match to raise up to £25,000 for Scope. Virgin Media will donate £5,000 to Scope for every goal scored. The penalty takers will have to score past formidable opposition in the shape of Southampton FC’s official mascot Sammy the Saint.

Virgin Media is the UK’s only TV provider to offer all the football on Sky Sports and BT sports in one package.

You can follow all the match day action using the Twitter hashtag #AllTheFootball

Sign up to hear more about Scope campaigns.

Confessions of a mindful mum in training

Mindful Monsters is a new and exciting way to give your little ones important life skills and spend quality time together. 

Each month, you’ll get a pack of seven activity cards inspired by mindfulness. In this blog Nerys talks about the difference Mindful Monsters has made to her children, and the way they react to each other and the world around them. 

My girls sometimes find those big emotions difficult to deal with. My eldest overreacts very quickly and gets herself wound up. This can easily upset my youngest, so I’m left with a difficult situation where they both demand attention. I feel like I’ve tried many things, but nothing seems to do the trick. I was looking for ‘something’ easy, ‘something’ simple, to help build up resilience in my girls. I didn’t know what this ‘something’ looked like. I now know it’s bright, furry and full of monsters.

“Mindful Monsters really works”

Mindful Monsters really works. It gives us that helping hand in those tricky parenting situations, all while spending quality time together. Whether in bitesize form for the busy school week, or longer variations for less time conscious weekends.

And I’ve noticed a real difference in my girls. They somehow seem more aware of their surroundings. They’re certainly more curious of it. They are more in-tune with mine and their dad’s feelings. And they’re kinder to each other. More self-assured. Of course, they still fight (tell me siblings that don’t!) but Mindful Monsters has served as the tool I was searching for. A tool to develop their resilience. Help them deal with those big emotions. And most certainly a welcomed positive distraction that not only diffuses their bickering, but develops important life skills.

As a teacher, I can really see the value in this. It’s setting them up for their future. And as the months roll on, our toolkit just gets larger and larger which the girls love. More fun to pick from!

I love the balancing activity as straight away it requires concentration which usually means they stop talking/bickering! It can easily be mixed with other activities too, like balancing whilst making your best monster face! Always a winner.

An answer to difficult moments

A series of cards with smiling cartoon monsters on themI wanted to find an answer to those more difficult moments as parent, and as well as this, I found a way of experiencing magic in the everyday.

We’ve had a giggle at breakfast, we’ve focused in the car on the way to school, we’ve gotten creative while picking up groceries and we’ve relaxed before bed. Without sounding too cliché, it really has fit into our lives just as well as it fits into my back pocket (or handbag, coat pocket, book bag, car dashboard etc.).

And the fact that my donation is supporting disabled children and their families is just the biggest bonus ever. It’s just a no-brainer for me. Feel good central (sorry, embarrassing mum alert!)

Anyway, on that note, I’ll leave it there and let you look forward to receiving your first pack.

Mindful Monsters is a new and fun way to help parents develop resilience and kindness in their children.

Your family will receive a set of activity cards to your door each month, giving your children important life skills, while you spend quality time together. You’ll explore the four themes of relaxation, creativity, positivity and concentration. Simple, quick, easy to fit into your busy lives, and, as Mindful Monsters is inspired by mindfulness, the activities come with all its brilliant benefits.

Order your first pack on the Mindful Monsters website, and help us continue our work supporting disabled children and their families.

How the next Government can make Everyday equality a reality

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

Text on infographic reads: Disabled people are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people

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

Infographic reads: Life costs more if you're disabled. On average, disabled people spend £550 a month on disability related costs

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.

Infographic with text: There are 13million disabled people in the UK - 21 per cent of the UK population

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. 

General election 2017: Make sure your voice is heard

Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election to take place on 8 June. 

This week, with just six weeks to go until polling day, we’ll be setting out what we believe needs to be done by the next Government to achieve everyday equality for the UK’s 13.3 million disabled people.

Over the next six weeks we’ll share more information about the policies we think it’s important all political parties commit to, that we believe are needed to achieve everyday equality for disabled people. 

We also want to encourage people to register to vote, get involved and have your say this general election.

How can I get involved?

The next Government has an opportunity to tackle the barriers faced by disabled people and help deliver everyday equality by 2022.

It’s important that the voices of disabled people are heard in this election. Voting, as well as taking part in election events in your local area, gives you the chance to tell politicians what’s important to you and what you would like to see them do.

In the run up to the election there will likely be events and hustings in your constituency which you can attend. You can  ask the candidates questions about what they plan to do on the issues that matter to you, whether that’s about social care or making your local area tidier and safer.

Scope is encouraging everyone to register to vote in this election. Remember, if you don’t register or aren’t registered already, you won’t be able to vote in this election.

How do I vote?

 The deadline to register to vote is 22 May. You must register to be able to vote on the 8 June.

You can register to vote either online or by printing off the form (which is also available in Easy-Read and large print).

You can vote by post by registering for a postal vote online. Your ballot paper will arrive in the post and you’ll need to fill it in and send it back by the deadline on the papers.

You can also nominate a proxy to cast your vote for you. They will attend the polling station and mark your ballot for you. They will need to be a close relative and agree to vote on your behalf.

Find out more about voting by proxy.

Otherwise you can vote at your local polling station on 8 June. Your polling station should be open from 7am to 10pm. If you’re planning to vote on the day, find out where your polling station is and what you need to take with you.

Are polling stations accessible?

All polling stations should be wheelchair accessible and support disabled voters.  If you need to use a disabled parking space, these should be clearly visible and monitored throughout the day.

There are lots of ways you can be supported to cast your vote inside a polling station:

  • If you cannot mark your ballot paper, members of staff called Presiding Officers may mark your ballot paper for you. You may also attend the polling station with someone who you would like to mark your ballot paper on your behalf.
  • Polling stations should provide tactile voting devices. The tactile voting device attaches on top of your ballot paper. It has numbered flaps (the numbers are raised and are in braille) directly over the boxes where you mark your vote.
  • Polling stations should provide large print versions of ballot papers.

Polling stations should be accessible for everyone wishing to vote. If for whatever reason your local polling station isn’t accessible, Presiding Officers should provide you with a ballot paper and allow you to vote outside of the polling station. Find out more information about what happens at polling stations.

If you visit a polling station and find it inaccessible, you can complain to your local authority. 

Working with disabled people: it’s so simple to get it right

Today we publish ‘Working for all?’, our new research about experiences of employment support among disabled people with high support needs. Aidan is 27 and works in London. In this blog he talks about his experiences of accessing support and colleagues’ attitudes at work.

Like many people, I get up at 6am each morning and commute to London to do a long day’s work at a job I love and an organisation I’m proud to be a part of. The only difference is that I’m blind, having been born with a genetic condition that affects my retinas. I’ve experienced a lot as a disabled employee: the amazing and the truly awful. I want to share what I’ve learned and explore where in-work support goes wrong and, most importantly, how we can get it right.

Not all employers think flexibly

I have had experiences in work where my disability has been viewed as a problem. The simplest adjustments have been refused, despite many adjustments not being expensive or requiring a lot of effort to implement. I once asked a line manager if I could structure my tasks in a way that would enable me to get the most out of my Access to Work support worker on the days she was in. This was met with the dismissive retort that it wasn’t “a part-time role.”

In another job, it was virtually impossible to get the managers to commit to the highly practical job descriptions that Access to Work require. I was refused simple requests such as using an alternative to PowerPoint or recording meetings. As a consequence, I’d often be working at home until 11pm to catch up and require far more support than would otherwise have been necessary. I was even told that because I had help with minuting, “you don’t look like a leader. You don’t look in control.” The message was always the same: I was presenting them with problems, and that is all they were. It was one way or no way.

I can’t hide my disability and wouldn’t want to, but I’ve developed tricks for subtle positive advocacy. At interviews, I always ask a question about the practical day-to-day work involved with the role. It allows me to slip in that I’m considering whether I’d need to use certain bits of equipment, or seek some support from the Access to Work scheme. I use a question to give them a crash course in case they were hung up on the disability. I believe that, right from the start, disabled employees should have a strong partnership with the employer. We are, after all, experts in our own disabilities. We need to support our managers, who in turn must take into account our needs in order to get the most out of us.

Employers’ mindsets need to change

In my experience, there are many people willing to challenge themselves and learn more about disabled colleagues. In my current organisation, for example, describing slides in meetings and running through proposed events in advance, have all become standard practice.

Colleagues understand that a disabled person is a person first and foremost. Combining their adaptability, my skill in offering solutions, good will and a sense of humour on both sides, we just make it work. Indeed, the fact that I require help sometimes has brought me into contact with colleagues in many different departments and roles. What might be thought of as a weakness is actually an asset for building strong networks, knowledge about other areas of the organisation and relationships that enable us to work better.

I want to see us get to a point where, instead of persuading employers to take a chance on disabled talent, they would say, “Why ever wouldn’t you?” I believe that with disabled people increasingly willing to express themselves and talk about their experiences, more and more employers are going through that game-changing mindset shift. That’s a great thing, but we’ve still got many more battles to fight before we win the war!

Find out more about experiences of employment support amongst disabled people with high support needs. Read our new research report, Working for all?

We want to see reform of the PIP assessment

The Government recently announced changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that would tighten up access to PIP for disabled people. We are concerned that this will result in disabled people missing out on vital support to help meet some of the additional costs they face as a result of their impairment or condition, on average £550 a month.

Figures today show that 65 per cent of claimants are successful at tribunal when they challenge a decision on their PIP assessment.

This shows that the PIP assessment is not currently working effectively for disabled people. Below, Abbi, a young disabled woman, shares her experiences of the process of applying for PIP.

Abbi’s story

When the little brown envelope informing me of the need to apply for PIP dropped through my letterbox, I was nervous.

Since first qualifying for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2009, my health has deteriorated. Both the benefit itself and the access to the higher rate for the mobility component have made coping with this significantly easier.

With my mobility continuing to deteriorate, the thought of being rejected for PIP (as has happened to many of my disabled friends and contacts) filled me with fear.

“It did not seem to have been designed for disabled people”

Applying for PIP was a complicated process and one which did not seem to have been designed for disabled people. First, I had to spend 45 minutes on hold to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to confirm that I wished to apply. Ironically, I only had time for such a call because I was off work for health reasons.

I have a hearing impairment and once the phone was answered, I found it very difficult to hear the speaker. However, a request to conduct the conversation over email rather than by phone was refused.

The rest of the process told a similar story. I filled out an application form which did not leave sufficient space for me to detail all of my conditions and medications.

“My assessment took one and a half hours”

I had to reschedule my first assessment due to access issues and was told that assessments can only be rescheduled once. If I was unwell on the day of the rescheduled assessment, I would have to apply again.

Upon arrival at the assessment centre, a sign on the door informed me that my assessment would take no more than 20 minutes, yet my assessor did not appear to have any of the information which I had painstakingly written out in my application form. Instead, she expected me to answer every question again, verbally.

My impairments are complex, but nowhere near as complex as those of other disabled people I know. My assessment took one and a half hours.

The PIP system remains inefficient

When the news came, I was incredibly relieved to hear that I would be awarded the equivalent of what I was awarded under DLA. I still have access to both the services and the funding which permit my independence. I can plan for a future, even as my mobility deteriorates.

However, when I read the Atos report on my health, I found multiple serious errors. It included the suggestion that I experience one of my most disabling conditions ‘once a month’.

I don’t understand the confusing series of deadlines by which I was supposed to have submitted different documents or why those documents were so blatantly dismissed.

Four years after its foundation, the PIP system remains inefficient, inept and, in many cases, potentially harmful to the mental and physical health of many disabled people in the UK. I am immensely grateful for the assistance and security which my PIP award affords me but, as the government threatens further cuts to PIP, I remain fearful for others who have yet to apply.

With one week to go until changes to PIP come into place, we are calling on Government to think again. We are briefing government officials about why it is so important that they don’t go ahead with these changes.

Instead, we want to see reform of the PIP assessment so that it accurately captures the range and level of disabled people’s extra costs.

We want to hear why PIP is important to you or your experiences of getting PIP. If you’d like to share your story, please comment below or email stories@scope.org.uk.

For further information about PIP, visit Scope’s website or call our helpline for free on 0808 800 3333.

Donate to Scope with Apple Pay

Our supporters can now make donations instantly with Apple Pay.

We’re one of 25 charities that have been supported by Apple Pay to offer a speedy and secure way to donate. This has allowed us to make the process of giving to Scope faster and easier by removing the need to enter billing and contact information on web forms.

If you’re using an Apple device simply go to our donation page, select ‘Once’ as your donation and option and the Apple Pay button should appear. 

Donations are vital to keep things like our helpline running.

Paula contacted our helpline after learning she had cerebral palsy at the age of 60. Until then, she had never received any kind of support. Our helpline provides valuable support and is only possible thanks to donations from supporters.

Thankfully, in 2017 there are more ways than ever to donate to charity. That’s why we’re delighted to be working alongside Apple Pay to launch a more convenient and modern way of fundraising.

Contactless payment technology has been revolutionary across the commercial sector, with hundreds of companies and customers benefiting from the speedy and secure way to pay. We’re really excited to be at the forefront of this technology in the charity sector, giving our supporters another way to make donations and support disabled people and their families.

Apple Pay works on Safari with iPhone SE, iPhone 6 and later, and Apple Watch.

Our helpline is only possible thanks to donations from supporters. You can help us be there for disabled people and their families by donating to Scope today with Apple Pay.

The Budget 2017 – What does it mean for disabled people?

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has delivered the Spring Budget today. In this blog we look at the impact the budget will have on disabled people across the country. 

Ahead of today we were calling for sustainable investment in social care, a reversal of the reduction in financial support for those in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG) and for Government to think again on changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The Budget contained some positive news for disabled people on social care yet we were disappointed by the Government’s failure to mention, let alone reconsider, upcoming changes to disability benefits.

Social care

Following calls from disabled people, charities, MPs and local councils, the Government has provided a cash injection of £2 billion for social care over the next three years.

We hope this is good news for the 400,000 working age disabled people who rely on social care for assistance with everyday tasks such as cooking and getting dressed.

We were really disappointed when there was no further funding announced for social care in the Autumn Statement and so we are pleased that the Government has listened to calls for urgent funding.

The care system has been under immense financial strain over the past few years, with the adult social care budget reduced by £4.6 billion since 2010. £1 billion of new funding will be available this year, yet the King’s Fund has predicted the funding gap for this period will be nearly twice that at £1.9 billion.

The Government also today announced a Green Paper on social care, we will be campaigning to make sure this consultation and following action focuses on how the social care system will provide the support and outcomes important to disabled people.

Financial security

PIP is intended to help disabled people cover some of the extra costs they face as a result of their disability, on average, £550 a month. Therefore we think it is vital PIP focuses on the extra costs disabled people actually face, and not their impairment or condition. We are concerned about the Government’s move to tighten up access to PIP and have been speaking to Ministers and MPs about our concerns since the legislation was announced.

We wanted to see the Government use the Budget to reconsider this change and take the opportunity to review the PIP assessment process. Our helpline has seen a 542 per cent increase in calls relating to PIP over the last year, with many people successfully appealing their original decision.

We are disappointed the Government intends to go ahead with these changes, and will keep raising our concerns with Government.

Employment

The Government has made a welcome commitment to halve the disability employment gap and we’ve been working hard over the last year to set out the reforms needed for disabled people both in and out of work to help make this goal a reality.

However, next month new claimants in the ESA WRAG will see a £30 a week reduction in their financial support. We don’t think that this will help disabled people find work and have been campaigning against these changes since they were first announced. Disabled people are already less financially resilient than non-disabled people, with an average of £108,000 fewer savings and assets. A reduction in financial support could end up creating an additional barrier to work.

We are concerned the Government are pressing ahead with this reduction. Having missed the opportunity to halt the reduction in the Budget, we, alongside other disability charities, will continue to push for this to happen before the change takes effect.

The Prime Minister has set out her vision of a country that works for everyone, yet following this Budget there is much more that needs to be done to include specific needs of disabled people in that vision. We’ll continue campaigning on all of these issues and more to make this case.