Why this General Election matters to Disabled people
On June 8 2017 UK voters will have a say on who governs the country over the next five years.
Who wins will make a huge difference to our lives. Since 2010 Government policies have taken away essential support from hundreds of thousands of Disabled people and our families.
- The UK is now the first state in the world to be found guilty by the United Nations of “grave and systematic violations” of Disabled people’s rights caused by the impact of the Government’s welfare reform programme.
- Though less than 20% of the population Disabled people, or families with a Disabled member, now make up half of all people in poverty.
- Millions of Disabled people are still routinely denied equal access to goods and services.
- There has been a 31% cut in social care budgets by Local Authorities between 2010-2015 totalling £4.6 billion. The tightening of social care eligibility criteria has removed all support from over 400,000 older and Disabled people between 2010 and 2015 and these cuts have been linked to an extra 30,000 deaths.
- Around £600 million & 15,000 mental health beds has been cut from mental health budgets while numbers of those seeking treatment has more than tripled. Suicides, detentions under the Mental Health Act and unexpected mental health patient deaths have all risen and there is an alarming growth in serious psychological distress being experienced by children and young people while funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services has been cut.
- The Government says it spends £50bn on disability benefits. This figure actually includes spend on social care, statutory sick pay, war pensions and carers’ allowance. It is misleading to directly compare this figure with what other Governments spend on disability benefits. Just this year alone Government policies have:
- Taken essential support away from 164,000 Disabled people through changes to Personal Independence Payment.
- Cut Employment and Support Allowance by a third for Disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group. This will predominantly affect people with autism, learning disabilities and mental health support needs who are not able to find paid jobs.
Questions for candidates
Even in times of recession, The Government’s make a choice about how and where they spend money and where cuts are made.
Candidates from political parties will be asking for your vote on 8 June 2017 – below are a few suggested questions you may want to ask them, at local hustings or when they knock on your door, to find out what choices they will make about us:
- Will you support the calls for Government to undertake a cumulative impact assessment on all the cuts and changes affecting disabled people through welfare benefit and tax changes as recommended by both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the United Nations?
- The massive cuts to social care funding are undermining Disabled people’s dignity, independence, choice and control. How will you ensure social care support needs of Disabled people are met?
- Current government policy is increasing the numbers of disabled people living in poverty. What would you do as an MP to change this and break the link between poverty and disability?
- How will you support disabled constituents left with no income as a result of benefit changes, delays, and sanctions?
- How will you ensure local academies and free school are fully inclusive and do not discriminate against Disabled pupils?
- What are the major barriers to employment that Disabled people face and how will you promote Disabled people’s employment on a real wage in your constituency?
- What do you think are the major barriers facing disabled people in this constituency and what would you do as MP to address them?
- What would you do to tackle disability hate crime in this constituency?
- How will you ensure that Deaf and Disabled constituents can contact and meet with you, for example through provision of BSL interpretation support and a wheelchair accessible constituency office?
- As our MP how would you promote and support the work of your local Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation?
We need as many Disabled people as possible asking candidates about their views and policies towards disabled people.
If you’re not registered to vote or not planning to vote then please do so because who wins this election really does matter.