The Conservative Party’s disability policies focus strongly on welfare reform, as well as education, health and social care.
The party’s election manifesto includes its plans to scrap the government’s employment schemes, such as pathways to work, and replace them with a single jobs programme.
It says a Conservative government would reassess the remaining 1.5 million recipients of incapacity benefit (IB), and offer “targeted, personalised” support sooner than a Labour government.
Mark Harper, the shadow minister for disabled people, said last autumn that everyone on IB or the new employment and support allowance would be offered this support “straight away”.
Anyone on jobseeker’s allowance who refuses to join the new work programme will lose the right to claim out-of-work benefits until they do, while those refusing reasonable job offers could forfeit their benefits for three years.
The manifesto repeats the party’s support for segregated education, with a “moratorium on the ideologically-driven closure of special schools”, and a pledge to “end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools”.
But the manifesto promises to set up a £1 million fund to help disabled people with the extra costs of becoming MPs or other elected representatives.
A Conservative government would also cut government contributions to child trust funds, except for families with disabled children and the poorest third of families.
The manifesto also pledges to introduce single budgets – combining health and social care funding – for people with long-term conditions.
And it includes plans to allow anyone to “protect their home from being sold to fund residential care costs” by paying a one-off insurance premium of about £8,000, and to “top up” this premium to cover the costs of personal care in their own home.
Although the manifesto pledges to help disabled people live independently, there is no explicit mention of care and support for working age disabled adults, although the party promises to maintain disability living allowance and attendance allowance.
It also promises greater access to “talking therapies” for people with mental health conditions, while a key focus of overseas aid would be access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education, particularly for disabled people, women and children.
Manifesto length: 120 pages
Mentions of the words “disabled”, “disability” and “disabilities”: 6
13 April 2010