Tag Archives: living standards

What the General Election means for us

(Image copyright Michael D Beckwith 2013)

Parliament returns on Monday with a new Conservative Government and a new Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP.

In the run up to the General Election, we called on the next Government to improve the lives of disabled people by:

  • protecting the value of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) / Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • halving the disability employment gap
  • investing in social care so that all disabled people have the support they need to live as independently as possible.

Halving the disability employment gap

We’re really pleased the Conservatives identified halving the disability employment gap as an important part of realising their objective of full employment. Their manifesto said ‘We will aim to halve the disability employment gap; we will transform policy, practice and public attitudes.’

The BBC have reported that as part of the Government’s plans to achieve full employment, there will be an Employment Bill within the Queen’s Speech that aims to create two million new jobs over the next five years.

We know that disabled people want the same opportunities to work as everyone else, and nine in ten disabled people are in work or have worked in the past. Yet only 48 per cent are currently in work. We will be looking for the Government to ensure that disabled people are at the heart of employment strategies and regional growth plans.

This week we have seen a welcome rise in the number of disabled people in work but the disability employment gap has remained largely unchanged over the last decade, at around 30 per cent.

We have made a number of recommendations on how the Government could increase the disability employment rate by:

  • creating more flexible workplaces
  • ensuring disabled people are connected to regional growth
  • ensuring that all disabled people receive effective and personalised support.

There is also an important economic case for addressing the disability employment gap. A recent report by Scope found that a 10 percentage point increase in the disability employment rate would increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by £45 billion by 2030 and also result in a £12billion gain to the public purse.

It’s vital that the Government continues to see addressing the disability employment gap as a key part in achieving full employment, so that disabled people who want and are able to work are supported to find a jobs, stay in work and progress in their careers.

Extra costs payments

Life can cost more if you are disabled and the extra costs faced by disabled people can have a significant impact on disabled people’s living standards. Scope research shows that disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on costs related to their disability. PIP and DLA are payments that are designed to contribute towards these extra costs.

During the election the Conservative Party announced they planned to make £12billion worth of cuts to welfare and there was much speculation on their welfare spending plans.

Last year in his speech at the Conservative Party Conference the Chancellor said that a future Conservative Government would protect DLA and PIP in any freeze on benefits, a commitment that was also in their Manifesto.

We’ll be looking to the Government to protect the value of extra costs payments.

Independent living

Working age disabled people are a third of all social care users. Social care supports disabled people to live independently, work and play an active part in the community.

However levels of unmet need within social care are high, with 97,000 disabled people who would have received social care five years ago, now receiving no support. That is why Scope has called on the Government to introduce a new sustainable funding settlement for social care.

During the General Election there was considerable focus on the conservative party’s commitments on NHS funding, but it’s crucial though that investment in the NHS is not looked at in isolation from social care funding.

Earlier this year the Care and Support Alliance published the findings of a survey of over 800 English GPs which found that almost nine in ten believe reductions in social care services have contributed to pressures in their surgeries.

When the Government sets out their priorities within the Queen’s Speech, we hope to hear about increased and ongoing investment in social care, so that the ambitions of the Care Act, to promote independence and well-being, can be realised.

Find out more about Scope’s campaign to improve living standards (PDF).

The Great Scope Bake Off

If you’re anything like me you’ll have been watching the Great British Bake Off wishing you could enjoy some of the treats on offer.  So what’s your favourite?  A chocolate brownie?  A red velvet sponge?  Or maybe it’s even a sausage roll?  Whatever it is, there was plenty to choose from during the Great Scope Bake Off this week.

The delicious entries were all for our new campaign – the 550 Challenge.  The campaign is all about raising awareness about the £550 extra costs that disabled people face, on average, every month and what better way to do it than to get people showing off their creativity in the kitchen.

The task was simple: bake something with 550 in it.  And the competition was fierce, with everyone vying for the title of Scope’s number one baker!

Our creative bakers certainly got people talking.  Check out some of the great creations:

What will your 550 Challenge be?  Could you create a delicious treat like our bakers?  Or maybe you want to do something completely different.  Whatever it is, it’s really easy to take part.

Just simply:

Take a photo or video with 550 in it.

  1. Share it on Facebook and Twitter and include #550Challenge and scope.org.uk/550.
  2. Email it to us at 550Challenge@scope.org.uk

Let’s get people talking together.  You can check out all the entries we’ve had so far in our gallery for some inspiration too.

T-shirt making day launches 550 Challenge Campaign

Life costs £550 extra a month for disabled people. It is time to get Britain talking about it. In this film Office actress Julie Fernandez launches our 550 Challenge campaign with a t-shirt making day.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your own 550 Challenge check out the gallery to see some of the Challenges that people from across the UK have been coming up with.

Remember to send your Challenge to 550Challenge@scope.org.uk or share it on social media with #550Challenge to see your picture on our gallery.

Living Costs: My Disability Shopping List

A guest blog by Martyn Sibley

I have been what is known as “disabled” my whole life. Oh, how we love labels! I have a genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which means I’m about as physically useful as a chocolate teapot.

On top of this potentially dire situation, let’s look at my disability shopping list:

  • Accessible housing: Very difficult to find, never cheap and usually requiring ramps and adapted bathrooms/kitchen after moving in.
  • Equipment: Electric bed (for comfort and pressure sores), electric wheelchair (for independent mobility), a hoist (to lift me), shower chair on wheels (to not smell), kitchen gadgets (a Kettle tipper, for example), and much more.
  • Social care: The recruitment, training and salary costs of employing people for my independent living needs. Tasks include; dressing me, personal hygiene, house chores, using the toilet, going to work, seeing friends and turning me at night. Plus their additional costs when on shift (food, accommodation, travel, leisure).
  • Health: Physiotherapy and swimming are very important. Prescriptions for antibiotics are required more than average in winter.
  • Other living costs: Higher utility bills to stop winter colds, charge electric equipment and for higher water usage. Costs of servicing equipment. Accessible transport is often more expensive than inaccessible options (see London’s tube map). Accessible holidays have a higher mark up too.

I could go on and on…

Funding

Fortunately, parts of this are covered by government funds. I get support in certain areas because I’m more “disabled” than average, because I understand my rights, and in some ways because I’m “lucky” with the postcode lottery we play.

If anyone narrow minded goes crazy to you about the costs of disabled people on the government, please tell them this: Unless death or social isolation is your thing, investing in us is not just right, but also better for everyone.

From being independent we are healthier and happier, saving future costs of hospital admissions and GP time. We can work, spend our money in the economy, contribute tax and share our skills/knowledge/experience for others to use. We also employ people with the social care money who also spend in the economy, pay tax and are valuable assets to society.

Despite the government funded support, there is a lot of costs not covered. Granted the Disability Living Allowance is in recognition of our extra costs. Unfortunately the maths still shows that we struggle to break even. And when we do succeed, the system takes it back again.

Other costs

For me there are mental and emotional costs of all the bureaucracy too. The form filling, meetings, reassessments, employment responsibilities, silly rules, threats of budget cuts and actual cuts. All on top of trying to just live a “normal” life.

Finishing on a positive note

Beyond the social stereotypes we face, and partly because of the support I have; I attended mainstream school, had non-disabled and disabled friends, did everything my family did, went to university, got drunk, lost my virginity, learnt to drive, graduated, worked in Human Resources and as a fundraiser for Scope for 6 years, went onto co-run Disability Horizons, travel the world and change it in my own little way.

On the one hand I hope my experience shows what is possible with the rightful funding, resilience, and a positive attitude. Equally I want to show the unnecessarily difficult reality of being disabled in 2014. Furthermore the possible regression we are facing going forward with policy suggestions. Only next year am I given big fears, doubts and worries about my personal finances and disability support package once the Independent Living Fund closes.

I’d love to hear about your life ambitions, hurdles you’ve overcome, your higher costs of disability, and achievements despite the struggle.

Martyn

What are your experiences of extra costs? Let us know in the comments below or find out about the Extra Costs Commission.

The 550 Challenge – on your marks, get set, go!

Ride more than 80 miles on a bike. In the pouring English rain. With no breaks.  Sounds exhausting, right?! What could be an even bigger challenge than that?

Yesterday thousands took part in Ride London, cycling the distance from the capital to Surrey and back, to support causes including Scope. It’s a tough challenge but after they’d passed the finish line we asked them to go one step further…

The 550 Challenge

Ride London participants were some of the first people to take part in a new awareness-raising campaign – the 550 Challenge. What’s it all about?

Life costs more if you’re disabled. From speaking to disabled people around the country, we’ve found it costs an extra £550 a month on average. Those extra costs could be anything from transport and taxis to get out and about, to an adapted knife and fork so you can eat.

As you can imagine, being that much out of pocket is having a big impact on people’s lives. This has to change – and it starts with getting the word out.

We want to raise awareness of the £550 extra disabled people are having to pay – that’s the big challenge. To do it we’re asking people all around the country to take a photo or a video of themselves with “550” in it and share it on social media. Together we can get Britain talking.

The tired cyclists at Ride London did a brilliant job of getting the ball rolling! Here are just a few of our favourites:

Two women and a man holding two big 5s and a bike wheel to make "550"

A man holds two big 5s and a bike wheel to make "550"

Man holding two big 5s and a bike wheel in vertical row to make "550" Two women holding two big 5s and a bike wheel to make "550"

A woman and three men hold two big %s and a bike wheel to make "550"

Are you up for the challenge too?

If they can do a great “550” photo after riding all day in the pouring rain, you definitely can too! There are loads of easy ways to take part.  You could:

  • Draw a 550 sign
  • Decorate a cake with 550 icing
  • Set yourself a 5 minutes 50 seconds challenge (or 550 metres or even 550 miles!)
  • Or whatever you like that’s 550 – get creative, get active, get together with friends or colleagues!

Then simply:

  1. Take a photo or video.
  2. Share it on Facebook or Twitter and include www.scope.org.uk/550 and #550challenge
  3. Email it to us campaigns@scope.org.uk

We’re looking forward to seeing what you can do! See more 550 pictures, find out more about the 550 Challenge and our extra costs campaign.

550 Challenge Gallery

Life costs £550 extra a month if you’re disabled – we want to get Britain talking about this with our 550 Challenge.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your own 550 Challenge check out the gallery to see some of the Challenges that people from  across the UK have been coming up with.

Remember to send your Challenge to 550Challenge@scope.org.uk or share it on social media with #550Challenge to see your picture here.

 

The Price is Wrong!

Today we’re launching The Price is Wrong, an interactive online quiz that aims to raise awareness of the extra costs of being disabled. Working on this game over the past weeks has had a particular resonance for me.

Growing up with a disabled brother, it was evident from quite early on that there were massive differences in the cost of bringing us both up. This ranged from the extra costs my parents incurred driving him to regular physiotherapy and hospital appointments hours away from where we lived, to the cost of higher ticket items like the sports wheelchair he needed to compete on a wheelchair basketball team as a teenager.

The biggest unfairness that remains with me was the cost of our bikes. I was given my first bike for my 7th birthday, a purple and white “Miami Miss” BMX. As well as making me look cool – or so I thought – it was the extra independence from mum and dad and the chance to speed off with my friends that meant so much to me.

For my brother, this vital step took much longer to arrive. Not because he wasn’t able to ride a bike – he was – but because our parents just couldn’t afford the expensive, adapted trike he needed. His first bike was a clunky contraption that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a catalogue for surgical equipment. It had manual controls, looked a bit like a white, mobility scooter without the motor and lacked any kind of street cred whatsoever. It was also dangerously unstable and when he cracked his head open racing me and my Miami Miss downhill, was soon relegated to the garage. It wasn’t until he was 11 – four years later – that we finally had the money to afford a proper adapted trike, something that should be a rite of passage for every child much earlier on. The trike cost over five times the price of my Miami Miss and my dad had to drive an eight hour round trip to pick it up.

Our story is certainly no exception, but although extra costs are something that come up time and time again when we talk to disabled people and their families, the general public are relatively unaware of just how high these costs can run.

With the Price is Wrong, we wanted to create a fun and engaging way to start the conversation about extra costs with an audience that might not have any prior experience of disability. It is difficult to achieve a balance between discussing a serious issue and doing it in a way that really draws people in and gets them involved, but I hope we’ve nailed it here. I’d love to hear what you think though!

If you’d like to test your knowledge of the extra costs disabled people face, play The Price is Wrong.

And if you’d like to feedback your experiences of the game, feel free to drop me a line in the comments section of this blog.

For more information about extra costs, check out our extra costs campaign.