I recently wrote to the Prime Minister, along with the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Marsha de Cordova.
You can read the full text here:
Dear Prime Minister,
17 September 2020
RE: Urgent need to address inequalities faced by disabled people during Covid- 19
Throughout this pandemic, what has become increasingly apparent is that disabled people and their families have been forgotten. We are writing to you to ask that you immediately instigate and lead Cross-Government action to urgently address this injustice.
Disabled people and those with health conditions which limit their daily activities have been disproportionately represented in those who have died from Covid-19, making up two-thirds of deaths to date: recent Office of National Statistics data shows that deaths of disabled people have been up to 2.4 times higher than for non-disabled people and analysis of deaths of people with learning disabilities and/or autism has been reported as being up to 4 or 5 times higher compared to others during the peak. We have received communications from many disabled people, disabled people led organisations and representative charities throughout the pandemic who have told us that disabled people have consistently been left out of policy decisions, their needs haven’t been considered and repeated efforts to raise this have fallen flat.
We are concerned that the Government’s economic recovery strategy completely fails to sufficiently support disabled people and does nothing to address the already significant disability employment gap. For example, the Government has not set out what steps it plans to take to ensure its Kick Start scheme supports disabled young people and has still not committed to uprating Employment Support Allowance and Job Seekers’ Allowance in line with Universal Credit. Urgent action needs to be taken to communicate clearly what steps the Government has put in place to protect disabled people in the event of a second spike.
Repeatedly through this time the Government have said ‘we’re all in this together’, but disabled people and their families have been wilfully ignored.
We are urgently calling on you to take this opportunity to undertake a number of corrective actions so disabled people can begin to regain their faith in this Government. Prime Minister, will you commit to:
- Review the Care Act easements as a matter of urgency. Even at the height of the pandemic, the easements were used by a few local authorities, with questions remaining on whether they were used correctly.
- Publish in full any and all assessments made of the likely impact of the Government’s Covid-19 responses on disabled people, such as Equality Impact Assessments regarding the impact of social care easements, the economic support packages and the Covid-19 recovery strategy. If these Equality Impact Assessments have not already taken place, can you tell us what considerations have been made for disabled people in preparing the Government’s Covid-19 responses otherwise?
- Be clear how your economic recovery plans will support disabled people. For example, making sure disabled young people can access the Kick Start scheme and that legacy benefits are uprated in line with Universal Credit.
- Publish a long-term plan for disabled people who might be required to shield themselves again due to any potential local, regional or national lockdowns, so that they have access to the services they need, from daily living to mental health support.
- Set out a full Covid-19 communications plan for disabled people, including introducing sign language interpretation for any national briefings and policy announcements, to ensure Deaf and disabled people are not excluded from vital public health information, and immediately implementing safe solutions to the communication barriers created by PPE for Deaf and disabled people.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Marsha de Cordova MP Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities
Vicky Foxcroft MP Shadow Minister for Disabled People