What are the political parties saying about disability?

ShivsShivani Govindia, Public Policy Placement Student

Over the next few weeks, the main political parties will make a series of policy commitments in the run up to the General Election. Some of these will impact on disabled people.

So far none of the parties have published their full manifestos, but they have been making announcements about what will, or might, be in them. I’ve spent some time looking at the commitments made so far by Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party, in the following areas:

  • Health and social care
  • Education
  • Welfare and work

Labour

Labour has promised a Time to Care fund, costing £2.5 billion, which will fund 20,000 new nurses, 8,000 GPs, 5,000 new homecare workers and 3,000 midwives.

They are also committed to “whole-person care”, which means that health and social care will be integrated. Andy Burnham, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, has stated that they will help children with complex needs by using integrated local budgets instead of “dealing with countless professionals.”

Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Work and Pension Secretary, has said that she is concerned that “the employment rate [for disabled people] is 30% lower than those without disabilities”. To address this gap she said that Labour will develop a specialist employment programme that will replace the Work Capability Assessment. The Labour Party is also committed to scrapping the “Bedroom Tax”.

Liberal Democrats
In their pre-manifesto, the Liberal Democrats have suggested they would review the Work Capability Assessment and would ensure that Personal Independence Payments and Disability Living Allowance assessments are done in a fair and timely way.

The Liberal Democrats will also streamline the system of back to work support by aiming for one budget and one assessment for disabled people.

Members of the Liberal Democrat Party will vote on the proposals set out in the pre-manifesto before producing their final manifesto commitments. We still don’t know whether the ideas above will become their policy.

However, some manifesto commitments have been announced, including:

  • A £3.5 billion investment in mental health care services in England;
  • An £8 billion investment in the NHS;
  • A pledge to keep delivering their “Pupil Premium” policy in schools, which they say helps the most disadvantaged pupils.

Conservatives
David Cameron wishes to continue the current Government’s ‘Disability Confident’ campaign, which works “with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.”

The Conservatives have said that they will reduce the welfare budget by £12 billion in the next Parliament. They will also introduce a cap on Access to Work awards, which will be set at approximately 1.5 x of average earnings (£40,800).

UKIP
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) have promised to scrap the “Bedroom Tax.” They want the NHS to always be free at the point of service. They will develop Apprenticeship Qualifications, but haven’t as yet said what they would do for disabled students.

Greens
The Green Party have said they will promote a comprehensive system of local schools offering mixed ability teaching staffed by qualified teachers.

They believe that the NHS should be a publicly funded, publicly provided health service free at the point of use and will repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They have also said that they will make mental health a much higher priority.

Plaid Cymru
Sense’s Policy and Campaigns Officer in Wales, Catrin, has had a look at the Plaid Cymru manifesto and picked out the following headlines:

  • They will integrate health and social care, for instance through greater collaboration of Inspectorates in Wales and through provision of health and care community services, with a focus on rural areas.
  • They are against any privatisation in the NHS.
  • They will scrap the bedroom tax and undertake a review of the Universal Credit system before its introduction.
  • They will devolve welfare and benefits.
  • They will review special education needs provision to ensure resources and funding are used effectively.
  • They will help families with disabled children to be able to afford child care and improve availability of childcare for children with disabilities.
  • They will develop the stock of adapted housing through using Integrated Care Fund to support adaptations to homes as well as the building of new accessible homes.

We will update the Public Policy oldblog when more manifestos are published.

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