ELECTION 2010: Policies on public services ‘will be crucial’

The most important election issues for disabled people are the benefits system, the NHS and social care, according to a new survey.

Many disabled people will also look at parties’ policies on poverty and equality when deciding who to vote for in the general election, the poll found.

The survey by ComRes for the disability charity Scope found that more than two-thirds of disabled people said that the parties’ disability policies will influence who they vote for.

But nearly nine-tenths of those surveyed said that politicians do not usually hear their views and opinions.

The online poll of more than 400 disabled adults comes against a backdrop of increasing concerns about possible cuts in public services after the election.

In March, a survey of English councils by The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy found nearly three-fifths were planning to cut spending on adult social care, and by an average of 7.1 per cent.

And in February, disabled people’s organisations said they believed that funding cuts by councils could be leading to reductions in disabled people’s support packages.

The poll results are the first to come from a new panel of disabled people across the UK – set up by ComRes and Scope – who will be regularly consulted about government policies.

Asked to pick up to three issues that were most important to them, nearly four in ten (39 per cent) selected the benefits system and the NHS, while more than a third (35 per cent) picked social care, 28 per cent poverty and 23 per cent selected equality and diversity.

ComRes said it was the first time such a panel of disabled people had been set up by a leading polling organisation.

Richard Hawkes, Scope’s chief executive, said: “We know there are deep concerns among disabled people that the services they rely on most will be seen as easy targets for cuts.

“This is a timely reminder to all politicians about just how important these support services are to disabled people.”

Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes, said the poll made it clear that disabled people’s voting decisions were “heavily influenced by a party’s policies on disability” and that they feel they are “being ignored by politicians”.

He added: “Our new panel of disabled people will mean that in future their voices are much louder in the wider debate on key public policy issues.”

News provided by John Pring

ELECTION 2010: Parties mired in welfare reform confusion

Conservative policy on incapacity benefit (IB) reform appeared in disarray today after the party’s disability spokesman contradicted public comments by his boss.

Last week, Theresa May, the Conservative work and pensions spokeswoman, told the BBC that all “2.6 million people on IB” would be reassessed to determine if they could work.

May made it clear that there would be no exemptions from the test. She said: “We will be covering those 2.6 million people on IB. Some of those will not be able to work. All will be reassessed.”

But the latest government figures show that in August 2009 there were about 2.26 million people on IB and another 375,000 on its replacement, the new employment and support allowance (ESA). This comes to a total of about 2.6 million.

All those on ESA have already taken – and “passed” – the government’s strict new work capability assessment (WCA).

May’s statement implied that those disabled people who have already undergone testing through the WCA would be tested again.

The Conservative manifesto also seems to make this clear, stating that a Conservative government would reassess all of the “2.6 million people claiming Incapacity Benefit”.

But today, Mark Harper, the Conservative disability spokesman, insisted that some people currently on IB would be exempt from being reassessed through the WCA.

Despite May’s comments, he said: “There are already some exemptions in the current system which we do not plan to alter, for those people who have a terminal illness, for example.”

Asked to comment on May’s statement that “all will be reassessed”, he asked for her quote to be emailed to him so he could respond.

Both her quote and a link to the BBC programme on which she made the remarks were emailed to Harper, but he failed to reply.

He said earlier that pointing out that the latest figures showed just 2.26 million people left on IB – and certain to be far fewer nine months on – was just “pedantic”, and insisted: “The manifesto isn’t wrong.”

Harper denied that his party was “coming down hard on disabled people” and stressed that “those people too ill or disabled to work, we absolutely do not expect them to do so”.

He said: “The people we want to come down hard on are those people on IB who are capable of working and do not have anything wrong with them and need to be told they need to get back to work.”

Meanwhile, Labour has admitted that one of its spokesmen was wrong last week when he appeared to agree with Theresa May that there would be no exemptions from the planned reassessments of those on IB.

Another Labour spokesman made it clear today that existing exemptions for those applying for ESA would apply when the government begins reassessing all those on IB this October.

These exemptions include people who are terminally-ill or have “severe functional impairments”. The spokesman said that those people on IB who are exempt will not have to be tested and will automatically be placed in the “support group” of those receiving ESA.

And in further evidence of disarray and confusion among the three main parties around welfare reform, the Liberal Democrats have been unable to provide any more information about their proposed new “partial capacity benefit”.

Their work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb floated the policy last week in a BBC interview in which he said: “It’s based on what you can do, perhaps part-time work, perhaps intermittent work, because at the moment people are afraid to take jobs or to work part time because they lose benefits.”

But despite repeated requests, no-one from the Liberal Democrat press office has been able to provide any more details about the scheme or how it would work.

News provided by John Pring

DisabledGo’s Chief Executive keynote speaker at Further Education Conference

Dr. Gregory Burke

Dr. Gregory Burke

DisabledGo’s Chief Executive Dr. Gregory Burke was keynote speaker at the recent Equality and Diversity in Further Education Workforce Conference.

The conference is the only equality and diversity event tailored towards the FE sector that focuses on the workforce and covers all strands of equality; it was attended by over 200 delegates.

The conference is designed to support Colleges in meeting their duties and furthering equality and diversity in employment. This is an increasingly important priority for Colleges in light of the public sector equality duties and the new Ofsted inspection framework for FE which now applies a limiting grade for equality and diversity.

Gregory spoke about the inequalities that disabled people face, asking –

  • Why is it in 2010, in comparison with non-disabled people, disabled people are more likely to be unemployed, least likely to have choice in healthcare, more likely to suffer abuse and hate crime, least likely to be part of the democratic process?
  • Why in 2010 are people with learning difficulties 58 times more likely than non-disabled people to die before the age of 50?
  • Why are disabled children over three times more likely to experience abuse and neglect than non-disabled children, in a society where we are more aware than ever that we should be eradicating abuse for all children.
  • Why, crucially for the FE sector, are disabled people more than twice as likely as non-disabled people to have no formal academic or vocational qualifications?

Gregory described Equality and Diversity as ‘not just a principle, an ideology or even an ideal but the DNA of a civilised society. And whether we’re talking about old, young, middle aged, the colour of skin, sexuality, gender or, disability: the issue is the same. The issue is how we view people. How we treat them.’

Having first hand experience of accessing FE as a disabled person Gregory described how his positive experiences in Further Education changed his life,

‘Further Education treated me as a human being, treated me with dignity and changed my life. Like most disabled people, I wasn’t born with my disability, after spending nearly 4 years in hospital and rehabilitation, I went to Chichester FE College.

At that time I could sit up for about an hour at a time. I could only manage a couple of hours a day. It would have been easy for the College to say that it couldn’t admit me because of these barriers – and remember we are talking 16 years ago in 1993 without the benefit of the advances in disability legislation.

Instead they came to my rehabilitation unit, spoke with my care team – spoke with me. Found out what I needed and did their utmost to support me. And that changed my life. I went from being a patient to being a student.’

The support Gregory received enabled him to apply and gain admission to the University of Cambridge where he went on to study for his undergraduate and post graduate degree and his PhD.

Gregory concluded his speech to attendees stressing that,
‘As Educators you are uniquely placed to empower disabled people to reach their potential. Uniquely placed to educate a new generation that talent and ability reside in individuals and are not subject to red-herrings of labels. Uniquely placed to shape a more equitable society and we are going to need you more in the times ahead than we have done ever before.’

For further information about the event please visit the Association of Colleges website http://www.aoc.co.uk, for information about Gregory’s availability for events please contact Anna Borthwick, Head of Business Development and Marketing (T: 01438 842710 E: anna.borthwick@disabledgo.com).

We’re all wrapped up! See us drive win a prize!

DisabledGo’s surveyors travel all over the UK each year visiting towns and cities from Aberdeen to Plymouth, Liverpool to London. Taking them there and back again are our fleet of Fiat Puntos and this month they have undergone a makeover.

To raise the profile of http://www.disabledgo.com all our cars now have our logo and website address on all sides. Our aim is to raise awareness of our website in areas we cover and areas we are about to launch.

As you can see from the pictures the cars will be difficult to miss!

DisabledGo’s fleet of cars

DisabledGo’s fleet of cars

‘DisabledGo’s freshly made over fleet of cars with Dr. Gregory Burke, Chief Executive and Anna Borthwick, Head of Business Development and Marketing.

With this in mind, the DisabledGo team are setting you a challenge… If you spot one of our cars, take down its registration number and let us know where you saw it. You can either post the information on our forum or email us at media@disabledgo.com. If you have the chance to take a picture please feel free to send that too. Each quarter we will be picking a winner at random from all entries and they will be sent £50.00.

Enquire within: Two New Books Open the Doors to Independent Living

News PictureNews Picture1 in 5 people in the UK is affected by ill-health, injury or disability. RADAR, the Royal Association for Disability Rights, is the leading UK pan-disability charity. We campaign for justice and equality for disabled people. Well known for our RADAR keys to 8000+ disabled toilets, we also support families living with ill-health, injury of disability, with a range of publications.

Two brand new books life published in April 2010 support independent living for families living with disability. The NKS (National Key Scheme) Guide 2010 is a complete guide to accessible disabled toilets around the UK. Our popular If Only I’d known that a Year Ago – Everything you need to know about living with ill-health, injury or disability, contains up-to-date practical advice on essential services you might not know about if new to disability or circumstances change. For example if recently diagnosed with a long-term health condition or have a disabled child or other relative after an accident, this book answers the questions constantly asked by people in exactly those situations.

How to Order
Hurry! Special offer – order before the 15th May at the special price of £11.99 (20% discount) + £2.50 p&p. Normal price: £14.99 + £2.50 p&p

Double discount (before 15th May) Buy both ‘If Only I’d Known that a Year Ago’ plus our new National Key Scheme Guide (NKS) 2010 to 8000+ accessible toilets and services at the special price of £17.49 + £2.50 p&p (normal price for both £24.98 + p&p) atradar-shop.org.uk or by calling 020 7250 3222 or e-mailingrpl@radar.org.uk

Pioneering Partnership on Disabled Access

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Public sector partners in Barnsley have joined forces to ensure disabled people receive comprehensive information about access to their services.

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, NHS Barnsley and Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have formed a pioneering partnership investing in DisabledGo to provide in-depth online access information for disabled people on award winning website http://www.disabledgo.com.

DisabledGo, the UK’s foremost provider of disabled access information, has already launched information to services managed by NHS Barnsley and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, which anyone can use for free at http://www.disabledgo.com. By logging on to http://www.disabledgo.com people can check, where consultation rooms are in relation to the main entrance, how far the car park is from a library’s entrance, whether there are lifts to access other floors in a hotel, whether a hearing loop is fitted at reception areas, the type of announcements in waiting areas, whether information is available in alternative formats and in-depth information about adapted toilets.

The availability of the online access guide will help increase choice; improve people’s experience and increase people’s confidence to access services or visit somewhere new.

Speaking about the information available to council services Derrick Taylor, Assistant Director Access to Services at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council said, ‘Working with our partners has enabled Barnsley to provided such an excellent facility to people who want to visit work or live in the Borough, it also demonstrates the shared vision NHS Barnsley and the Council have ’.

Amanda Heenan, Equality and Diversity Manager at NHS Barnsley added, “We believe this tool will enable disabled people to easily find and choose accessible health services that best meet their needs. Accessibility is not just about bricks and mortar, it is about awareness and choices, which is why the guide uses a combination of images and information about facilities to help patients recognise the choices in healthcare available to them.”

The access information to services and departments within Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is currently being collected.

Sandra Taylor, Chief Executive at Barnsley Hospital, said the organisation was delighted to sign up to the innovative site, commenting “This will enable prospective patients to see the hospital through the eyes of disabled people, so that they are confident in planning and preparing their journey through our services and to make whatever personal arrangements they consider they need to make to feel in control of what can seem a daunting and anxiety provoking experience.

“It also helps us, our service and estate planners to consider where we might improve access or address barriers to equal access.”

Steve Wragg, Chairman of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the decision of the hospital, NHS Barnsley and Barnsley Council to make Barnsley the first town in the country where all the major care providers support the DisabledGo website, was a major boost for local people.

If you would like more information on the guide please contact Anna Borthwick, Head of Business Development and Marketing.

Email: anna.borthwick@disabledgo.com
Telephone: 01438 842 710

Disability Access Guide to Olympic Borough is all systems ‘Go’

The London Borough of Waltham Forest is one of the 5 Olympic Host Boroughs and will soon be joining online access guide http://www.disabledgo.com!

The guide to Waltham Forest will cover 1,000 venues including hotels, parks, leisure centres, council offices, high street stores, restaurants, dentists, tourist attractions – the list goes on and on.

http://www.DisabledGo.com currently features 15,000 venues across London including two other Olympic Host Boroughs – Tower Hamlets and Greenwich.

The guide will be launched in August 2010 and will enable people to find out whether venues have adapted toilets with dimensions or parking close by, as well as specific details such as whether there are tactile or Braille markings in lifts or on doors, the positioning of fixtures and fittings, and whether you can request large print or Braille information.

There are lots of ways you can get involved in the project. You can attend the information session being held 2nd June (2pm – 4pm)at Waltham Forest Disability Resource Centre to find out more and give your views. You can apply to become a trainee surveyor or register your interest to shadow surveyors for work experience. You can suggest a venue to be included in the guide or help publicise the project.

Pat Bhabha from Disability Action Waltham Forest said, ‘We are pleased that Waltham Forest will be having a guide that all disabled people can use and benefit from, featuring toilets to shops and services. It is also good that disabled people themselves will have the opportunity to participate to make sure that the Guide is relevant and includes the information they want.’

The online guide will provide benefits for business too, helping them reach more customers by publicising the access they offer. Current figures estimate that there are 11 million disabled people in Britain who spend £80 billion each year, numbers that every business should take notice of. All businesses that take part will also receive Disability Awareness Manuals, designed as a 20 minute introduction to disability and access.

If you would like to apply to be a trainee surveyor or would like more information on the project please contact Anna Borthwick on
Telephone: 01438 842710 or
Email: anna.borthwick@disabledgo.com

Naidex 2010 a review from the DisabledGo team

20th-22nd of April the DisabledGo team headed to the NEC in Birmingham for the Naidex exhibition. This is the first year we have had a stand so we were all very excited to be attending.

Naidex is the UK’s number 1 exhibition for the national homecare, rehabilitation and disability market. With thousands of products being exhibited by over 360 companies, the event gave visitors, the chance to test, touch and compare the most innovative new products to aid independent living.

Armed with sweets and furry bugs we set to work letting as many people as possible know about http://www.disabledgo.com! We met many people who already knew about us and use us on a regular basis but also people who had never heard of us and as a result were keen to get on the web and plan their next trip out.

We had our very own walking sandwich boards that attracted the crowds and lots of laughter. We were lucky enough to be pictured with Paralympic Gold Medallist Matt Skelhon and Paralympian basketball player and TV celebrity, Ade Adepitan.

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Many products caught our eye but a few highlights for us included the sensory garden equipment available and a rucksack that turned into a lap tray.

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We were also amazed by the Guide Dog display that gave everyone an incite in to the training and role Guide Dogs play in assisting people with visual impairments.

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We had a great three days meeting new and interesting people who now follow us on Twitter and Facebook; we also hope to see many of those people at our steering groups up and down the UK.

Another successful event, thank you Naidex we look forward to seeing you again next year…

Rachel Felton
Business Development Manager