On Tuesday we attended the national disability hustings in Westminster where 170 attendees had the opportunity to question the three main parties on their disability policy ahead of next week’s General Election.
We organised this with a number of other disability charities because there are 13 million disabled people in the UK and we think it is important their voices are heard in this election.
A hustings is a meeting where candidates in an election meet potential voters, the disability hustings focused on some of the issues important to disabled voters.
The audience heard opening statements from the Minister for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt, former shadow Women and Equalities Minister, Kate Green and President of the Liberal Democrats, Baroness Sal Brinton. They set out what policies they have included in their manifestos for disabled people and what their priorities would be if their party was elected.
The audience then had the opportunity to ask questions on three main areas agreed for the event; benefits, social care and employment. A number of questions were around the assessment process for both the Work Capability Assessment and Personal Independence Payments where people shared their experiences and thoughts on where change was needed.
Social care has been a big issue at this election and many disabled people aren’t getting the care and support they need. All three panelists recognised the problem and agreed that the social care system needs more funding.
Finally disabled people spoke about their experiences of looking for and being at work. Audience members and panelists discussed how employers can play a bigger role in recruiting and supporting disabled employees. Many people agreed on the importance role the Access to Work scheme plays.
What did we think?
We attended with three Scope storytellers, Michelle, Will and Jessica. We asked them afterwards why they came and what they thought of the hustings.
Will is a games developer from London. He created parody of Channel 4’s Superhumans advert calling for better access, which went viral.
I came today because I really wanted to get a first-hand take on what the leading parties are saying around disability. It was a really interesting day.
I think a lot of the practicalities of being disabled maybe weren’t looked into but obviously so much of it is about money. It’s difficult to shy away from that. If you don’t have the resources, to start to talk about mindsets and attitudes is difficult because it feels like an ideology as opposed to a pragmatic task.
Jessica is a vlogger and blogger who lives in Brighton.
I wanted to come today because it’s not always clear what each party thinks about disability issues. Those aren’t the topics that are generally covered on the nightly news, it’s not something they always debate or talk about very openly so we don’t generally know where all the parties stand on specific things.
I would have liked them to talk more about social issues. We talk a lot about social care but not about how each of the parties are going to be changing the rhetoric they use in order to combat social stigma.
Michelle is a young campaigner who took part in Scope’s Scope for Change programme.
I struggle to work. It’s the whole idea that you almost become someone’s burden. I think that benefits should always be assessed on the person themselves and not on the surrounding situation.
I think they need to work a bit harder, so far so good, but they need to do more. Employment would be most important to me because I’m finding hard to look for a job.
There was lots of debate online about the hustings and you can look at the hashtag #disabilityhustings to find out more.