Greater Manchester’s mayor has praised the work of disabled people’s organisations that has exposed the “severity” of the cost-of-living crisis, even before the onset of winter.
The survey by Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Panel* found one in five disabled people could not afford essential items, while another 28 per cent said they could afford essentials but nothing else (see separate story).
And one in four of the disabled people responding to the survey said they had been forced to use a food bank or rely on others to secure food.
Labour’s Andy Burnham (pictured) told an online meeting organised by the panel yesterday (Wednesday) that the results of the survey should be put before every MP and minister before final decisions are made on the government’s 31 October budget.
He said: “No decisions should be made until [the survey report] has been fully absorbed at a Westminster and Whitehall level because this is the picture that needs to guide all of those decisions.”
The survey findings are due to be published tomorrow (Friday) on the panel’s website.
Burnham said the threat of further government cuts to public spending and public services was “downright dangerous”.
He said: “To contemplate major reductions in the support available to people at this time will leave people, I would say, at severe risk.
“It will even put lives at risk in the coming period.”
He called on the government to raise taxes before considering further reductions in public spending.
He said there was “nothing left to cut, actually, other than people’s hope, people’s support, and in the end risking people’s lives. It’s that severe.”
And he said there needed to be a “fight back” against the idea that there was going to be “austerity mark two”.
Burnham said the figure from the survey that had made the most impression on him was that 20 per cent of disabled people who responded said they could not afford essential items.
He said: “If you take nothing else away from today just think about that. This is before the food inflation we are going to see has really kicked in.
“One in five disabled people in Greater Manchester can’t afford the basics to keep people fed, warm and safe.”
He said that every one of the 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester was planning to introduce “warm banks” – safe and warm places where people can visit if they cannot afford to heat their homes – this winter.
The mayor praised the panel for “changing the debate in Greater Manchester” and for “bringing the voice of disabled people into that debate”.
Burnham, who set up the panel shortly before the pandemic, with the support of the leaders of the 10 local authorities, said: “The impact you have had has been huge and we are really proud of you as members of the panel.”
*The panel is convened by Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People in partnership with Burnham and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Members of the panel include Disability Stockport, Stand Up Sisters, Manchester Deaf Centre, People First Tameside and Embrace Wigan and Leigh
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