Westminster Debate – Disability Inclusive Covid-19 Response

Inclusion London’s briefing for MPs

On Thursday 15 October there will be a Westminster Hall debate on a ‘Disability Inclusive Covid-19 response’.

Inclusion London have prepared a briefing for MPs ahead of the debate.

You can download the full briefing here.

Throughout the pandemic period, Inclusion London has been closely monitoring the situation and how it has affected Disabled people, through surveys, working with our member DDPOs, through forums such as the Inclusion London Campaign forum, and with our interactions with individual Deaf and Disabled People.

This briefing will lay out some of the issues we have noted thus far, and will detail some of the solutions we believe are needed in order so that any response to Covid-19 is Disability inclusive.

Summary

Disabled people were disproportionally affected by the pandemic and the government’s response to it.  Many Disabled people felt abandoned and forgotten.  The government chose to look at Disabled people as vulnerable and took active steps to weaken our legal rights.  The circumstances when resources had to be rationed and some needs prioritized over others made many Disabled people question their value as human beings.  

Key Asks

  • Future decisions and policies should be based on the need to promote Disabled people’s rights, they need to be compliant with the UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People and the government’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
  • There needs to be an immediate recognition of the vital role that local Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) played in the provision of mutual aid during the lockdown. Local DPOs were carrying out tasks such as volunteer co-ordination, food and necessities deliveries to shielding Disabled people, anti-isolation activities and hate crime support services.
  • There should be increased funding made available to DDPOs in order so they can continue to provide the much-increased role that has been made necessary during the pandemic.
  • A furlough scheme should be developed for shielding workers who cannot work from home but cannot go into their workplace
  • The government and local authorities must co-produce solutions and the “new normal” with DDPOs to ensure the inclusion of Disabled people in all spheres of life
  • The crisis has exposed fundamental flaws in the current social care system.  In the short-term social care easements in the Coronavirus Act must be repealed.  Weakening the already basic rights Disabled people have in law is totally unacceptable, instead the government should focus on providing all necessary resources and ensuring local authorities and care providers have support they need. 
  • There should be an immediate and backdated uplift to legacy benefits in line with the uplift to Universal Credit.
  • The DWP should pause conditionality in benefits and review its effectiveness in current circumstances, as a minimum it should issue immediate guidance to job centres and job coaches that shielders should not be sanctioned for being unable to find work
  • Access to Work must be further reformed and improved to ensure that Disabled people receive the needed support to work from home promptly, to reduce the risk of job loss as a result of delays to this support

You can download the full briefing here.