ELECTION 2010: Policies on public services ‘will be crucial’


The most important election issues for disabled people are the benefits system, the NHS and social care, according to a new survey.

Many disabled people will also look at parties’ policies on poverty and equality when deciding who to vote for in the general election, the poll found.

The survey by ComRes for the disability charity Scope found that more than two-thirds of disabled people said that the parties’ disability policies will influence who they vote for.

But nearly nine-tenths of those surveyed said that politicians do not usually hear their views and opinions.

The online poll of more than 400 disabled adults comes against a backdrop of increasing concerns about possible cuts in public services after the election.

In March, a survey of English councils by The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy found nearly three-fifths were planning to cut spending on adult social care, and by an average of 7.1 per cent.

And in February, disabled people’s organisations said they believed that funding cuts by councils could be leading to reductions in disabled people’s support packages.

The poll results are the first to come from a new panel of disabled people across the UK – set up by ComRes and Scope – who will be regularly consulted about government policies.

Asked to pick up to three issues that were most important to them, nearly four in ten (39 per cent) selected the benefits system and the NHS, while more than a third (35 per cent) picked social care, 28 per cent poverty and 23 per cent selected equality and diversity.

ComRes said it was the first time such a panel of disabled people had been set up by a leading polling organisation.

Richard Hawkes, Scope’s chief executive, said: “We know there are deep concerns among disabled people that the services they rely on most will be seen as easy targets for cuts.

“This is a timely reminder to all politicians about just how important these support services are to disabled people.”

Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes, said the poll made it clear that disabled people’s voting decisions were “heavily influenced by a party’s policies on disability” and that they feel they are “being ignored by politicians”.

He added: “Our new panel of disabled people will mean that in future their voices are much louder in the wider debate on key public policy issues.”

3 May 2010

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