Nearly 100 disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) across the UK have secured more than £1 million in funding to help them deliver grassroots emergency support to disabled people during the pandemic.
A total of £1,092,906 of funding from the National Emergencies Trust (NET) Coronavirus Appeal will be handed to 98 DPOs.
Projects that have secured funding include those offering advice on benefits and accessible employment, training, and IT support, while other DPOs will use the funding to improve access to their own websites.
Tracey Lazard (pictured), chief executive of Inclusion London*, one of the coalition of DPOs that oversaw the release of funding, said: “The sheer demand for this fund, from DPOs that were locked out of mainstream emergency fund awards, shows the overwhelming need for the peer services that DPOs offer disabled people during times of crisis.
“It also shows how DPOs, run by disabled people, are best placed to know what disabled people need to maintain and protect our rights and our inclusion, choice and control.”
The disabled people’s and service-user network Shaping Our Lives* (SOL) has secured four years of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.
It said this will allow it to continue and extend its work across the country, “advocating for the inclusive involvement of people with lived experience of using health and social care services”.
It has also adopted a new mission and vision, and relaunched with a new logo and slogan: “Inclusive Involvement Matters.”
Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of SOL, said in a video that many user-led organisations had already been lost because of the funding crisis DPOs have experienced in recent years.
He said SOL would be working in “new and strong inclusive ways, to make sure that, in these difficult and changed circumstances, people as service users, as disabled people, have a real organisation, nationally, on your side”.
The Commons work and pensions committee has launched an inquiry into the disability employment gap, and how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can provide better support for disabled people in the jobs market.
The inquiry will examine trends in the disability employment gap – the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people – the impact on the economy of low employment rates for disabled people, and the assistance available to support disabled people both in and out of work.
Among other areas it will cover, the inquiry will look at the ongoing impact of the pandemic on disabled people’s employment rates, and the effectiveness of DWP’s much-criticised Disability Confident scheme.
Last month, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how the government’s repeated claims that its policies have transformed the employment prospects of disabled people over the last seven years had been challenged by academics who suggested their figures were simply the result of a statistical quirk.
A link to that story has been passed to the committee by DNS.
The deadline for submissions to the inquiry is 18 December.
New analysis by the TUC has found that disabled people earn on average a fifth less than non-disabled workers, with the gap widening by more than a quarter (27 per cent) over the last year.
The analysis shows that the “disability pay gap” rose from £3,000 to £3,800 per year over the last year for someone working a 35-hour week.
Disabled women face an even bigger pay gap, being paid around £6,700 less a year than non-disabled men.
The TUC said the figures mean that disabled people effectively work for free for the last 60 days of the year and in effect stop getting paid on 1 November.
And it warned that the pay gap will “almost certainly” increase again because of the impact of the pandemic.
It said the key reasons for the pay gap are that disabled people are more likely to be working in part-time jobs, which tend to be lower paid; that they are over-represented in lower-paid jobs; and that they tend to leave education earlier than non-disabled people; while it is also linked to unlawful discrimination, structural barriers and negative attitudes.
A disabled child from Sheffield missed out on years of education because a council failed to provide suitable alternative schooling for him, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
The ombudsman found that Sheffield City Council was responsible for a “catalogue of errors”.
When the boy – who is now 15 – could not stay at his first secondary school, he was placed in alternative education on a much-reduced timetable, but this was with an unregistered provider that failed to provide him with “proper formal schooling”.
The boy left his first secondary school in 2015 but did not start his second school until April 2018, and he did not complete a full week’s education until March this year.
The ombudsman found 12 separate faults with the way the council handled the family’s case, including a delay in creating an education, health and care plan for him when he left primary school, which should have been completed in 2015 but was not finished until December 2017, with his mother not receiving a copy until May 2018.
The council has agreed to apologise to the family and pay them nearly £20,000 to make up for the boy’s lost education, which will be used for his educational benefit.
The council has also agreed to carry out a full audit of its alternative education provision.
Results of an annual survey of accessible parking have shown “alarming” levels of abuse across the UK.
Nearly 800 people took part in the annual Baywatch survey, which examined blue badge spaces controlled by both supermarkets and local councils.
It found that that 96 per cent of respondents did not think local authorities were doing enough to tackle abuse of the blue badge system, while 87 per cent found that bays for holders of blue parking badges in supermarket carparks were either “often” or “very often” abused.
It also found two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents had seen accessible spaces being removed because of the pandemic.
Disabled Motoring UK, which runs the annual survey, said the results “should be the wake up call that the parking industry needs to once and for all provide adequate parking provision to disabled motorists and make sure it is enforced correctly”.
*Inclusion London and Shaping Our Lives are both Disability News Service subscribers
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