A court has found in favour of a disabled dad who argued that he was being discriminated against by an estate agent who prevented him viewing properties because he was claiming housing benefit.
Stephen Tyler has been barred from viewing properties advertised by a Birmingham estate agent because he receives housing benefit.
Birmingham County Court ruled this week that the “No DSS” rule was unlawful indirect discrimination and in breach of the Equality Act.
Judge Mary Stacey said in her ruling: “There is no doubt that there was a blanket policy that no-one in receipt of housing benefit would be considered for the three properties.
“It put the claimant and other disabled people at a particular disadvantage when compared to others.”
Tyler (pictured, with Shelter solicitor Rose Arnall), who is married with four children and was supported in the case by the housing charity Shelter, said: “It’s been a very stressful time.
“It is amazing to have won – not just for me but for the tens of thousands of people like me facing this discrimination.
“Hopefully now it’s clear that the law is on our side, things will change.”
The family lost their previous rented home after they asked for adaptations to be made to the property, and the landlord responded by serving them with a section 21 “no fault” eviction notice.
They were left homeless but have now – with Shelter’s help – secured social housing.
It is the second time a UK court has ruled that such “No DSS” restrictions are unlawful, following a ruling by York County Court in July that involved a single mother-of-two, who was also supported by Shelter.
Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for a share of a new £1.5 million emergency fund set up to help them respond to the COVID-19-related needs of disabled people.
A new application portal went live this week, so DPOs can now apply for grants of between £1,000 and £25,000 from the DPO Covid-19 Emergency Fund.
Funding is being distributed to grassroots DPOs across the UK to try to ensure disabled people are “less isolated, more independent and their voices are heard and reflected in recovery strategies”.
It is being administered and distributed through a partnership of DPOs across the UK, with funding for work in the areas of independent living, isolation and income.
Funding is only available to UK organisations run and controlled by disabled people.
The £1.5 million funding has been awarded by the National Emergencies Trust (NET), which works with charities and other bodies to raise and distribute money and support victims during domestic disasters or emergencies.
The closing date for applications is 5 October.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has been confronted with the testimony of a disabled campaigner on the true impact of the social care funding crisis.
Hancock was giving evidence to the health and social care select committee’s inquiry into the social care funding needed over the next five years, shortages in the social care workforce, and the long-term reforms needed to social care funding.
He was shown recorded evidence given to the committee in June by Anna Severwright, a former doctor who lives with multiple long-term conditions, who had told MPs: “I really feel I’m not able to be living a normal life.
“I don’t have enough hours to be able to go out at the weekends, in the evenings, and just do a lot of the normal things that make life worth living for us.
“I found myself in the position quite regularly where I have to think, ‘Well, I’ve only got two hours left this week, do I want to do food shopping, do I want another shower or do I want to go and meet up with a friend?’ and that’s quite a hard place to have to live your life.”
He was also shown testimony from Deborah Gray, whose husband has dementia – and who is another former doctor – and found herself facing huge bills to pay for his care because it was not covered by the NHS Continuing Healthcare programme.
Hancock told the committee that they were “powerful videos” that “effectively capture the challenge that we face as a society with finding a long-term reform for social care”.
He said: “The current way that the social care system operates clearly has embedded in it a series of injustices that have grown up over time.”
But he did not offer any suggestion for how the government’s long-awaited social care reforms would deal with those injustices.
New government figures show there has been a sharp increase in spending on the Access to Work disability employment programme over the last year.
The scheme funds workplace adjustments for disabled people, such as providing support workers, travel costs and aids and equipment.
The figures, released by the Department for Work and Pensions, show a real terms rise of more than £10 million in spending on the programme over 12 months, from £132 million in 2018-19 to £142 million in 2019-20.
They also show that spending in each of the last two years was higher in real terms than it was in the first year of the coalition government in 2010-11, when it was £125 million, before falling as low as £105 million in 2015-16.
There were more than 29,000 people who received workplace support of some kind from Access to Work in 2019-20, compared with about 23,000 in 2010-11.
The four most significant areas in which disabled people received support approved through the scheme in 2019-20 were for aids and equipment (4,230 people receiving a payment), support workers (10,720 people), travel to work (10,510 people) and mental health support (5,740 people).
Workers in social care and the NHS are to be given clear face masks to help disabled people who lip-read or rely on facial expressions to communicate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The see-through masks have an anti-fogging barrier to ensure the face and mouth are always visible, and they will help staff communicate with service-users with impairments such as hearing loss, dementia and learning difficulties.
A deal with US-based company ClearMask will see 250,000 masks delivered to NHS trusts and social care providers across the UK over the next few weeks.
Care minister Helen Whately said: “The introduction of clear face masks will help overcome some of the difficulties carers wearing [personal protective equipment] are facing communicating with people who rely on lip-reading.
“If this proves a success I look forward to increasing the supply to make sure whenever a clear mask is needed, there is one available.”
The first batch of the clear face masks has already been distributed to NHS trusts, with further deliveries over the next couple of weeks.
The masks will be distributed across the whole of the UK.
Grammar schools in England have been warned not to discriminate against disabled children in the way they run this year’s 11+ entry exams, following a successful legal challenge.
A visually-impaired child was unable to sit the entry exam for Reading School in Berkshire because it refused to make the adjustments his family had requested for him, including an exam paper in larger print.
The case was referred by the disability charity RNIB to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which provided funding to take the case to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability).
The tribunal concluded that Reading School was responsible for making sure the adjustments were in place.
EHRC said the success of the case meant grammar schools must improve their accessibility arrangements for entry exams, which have been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EHRC has this week written to all grammar schools and other selective schools, to remind them of their duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against any disabled child.
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