My contribution during the debate on the new Covid-19 restrictions.

The Government must ensure that disabled people’s voices are at the heart of decision-making and this is more crucial than ever during a pandemic.

Full plain text version of the speech:

 

Thank you, Madame Deputy Speaker,

Today, I would like to focus on one particular group, who have felt forgotten throughout this pandemic: disabled people.

In reading the updated regulations, I can see that no assessment of the impact of lockdown on disabled people has taken place.

This must change. Disabled people must be central to our decision-making, not an afterthought.

Communication has been poor.

Shielding letters, have been arriving far too late, leaving many unsure of what guidance they should be following.

At Monday’s press conference shielding was reintroduced, yet the govt website doesn’t have updated guidance for shielders.

The guidance that is there is not in an accessible format.

People urgently need this evidence to ensure they can continue to be paid.

The Government’s press conferences – which are communicating extremely important public information – are STILL taking place without a British Sign Language interpreter.

It is unbelievable that this has not been sorted.

At the start of the crisis, disabled people raised with me their concerns around accessing food, medicines, PPE and social care.

Many have faced increased costs, yet we still haven’t seen any uplift to legacy benefits.

Ministers originally said this would take up to 8 weeks to sort. Ten months later and no progress made.

Will this increase ever materialise?

The women and equalities select committee report

“Unequal Impact? Coronavirus, disability and access to services” calls for an independent inquiry into the causes of adverse outcomes for disabled people.

ONS statistics show that two thirds of those who have died from coronavirus in England and Wales have been disabled.

We also need the Scottish Government to collate this data to enable us to fully understand the impact of the pandemic on disabled people.

Sadly, the funding for disabled people’s organisations has been cut.

Being guided by disabled peoples experience is essential. I want to thank everyone who contacted me about today’s debate. I’m only sorry time restraints mean I can’t raise everyone’s points.

I will end by asking one simple question. As the Government’s Disability Unit looks to recruit 14 disability and access ambassadors, how many of these will be experts by experience? How many will be disabled people? I hope the answer is all of them, but I fear not.

The Government must ensure that disabled people’s voices are at the heart of decision-making and this is more crucial than ever during a pandemic.

 

 

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