A campaigning coalition is hoping that a new “disability manifesto” will help to end disability poverty by 2025.
Tackling Disability Poverty, published by the disability poverty charity Disability Alliance and backed by 16 organisations, outlines 17 “routes out of poverty” that could help eradicate the “avoidable and unacceptable” poverty faced by disabled people.
Disability Alliance called on political parties to say how they would prioritise the 17 measures in time for next year’s general election.
Vanessa Stanislas, chief executive of Disability Alliance, said: “Our evidence reveals the persistent poverty which blights disabled people’s lives from childhood to older age.
“We need the main UK political parties to commit to ensuring ‘efficiency savings’ and other spending plans do not mean cuts to support for disabled people and their families.”
The manifesto says research has found that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty than non-disabled people, while a third of working-age disabled adults live in poverty.
The manifesto says the first step should be the development of a new approach to measuring disability poverty.
Stanislas said existing evidence should be “collected in a way that presents the proper picture of disability poverty”.
The manifesto also calls for campaigns to encourage benefit take-up, particularly targeting disabled older people and parents of children with a statement of special educational needs (SEN).
Many of the “routes out of poverty” would save the government money, according to the manifesto.
Among recommendations are a focus on tackling disabled 16-18-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training, and additional support to help disabled 18-25-year-olds find and retain work.
Supporting disabled children to gain skills and improving support to help disabled adults into work could save more than £40 billion, it says.
And tackling disability poverty could cut ill-health and avoidable NHS costs.
The manifesto also says there should be an end to care charges for all disabled people; a simpler benefits system; and a review of the impact of the new employment and support allowance.
At the manifesto’s Commons launch, Terry Rooney MP, chair of the Commons work and pensions select committee, said the document was “ambitious”, but added: “Do we really as a society want a situation where disabled people could grow up in poverty, spend their working age life in poverty and spend their retirement in poverty? Because that is what is being said at the moment.”
9 December 2009