Five commitments to put disabled people at the heart of the general election

Blank note pad with pencilThe general election on 8 June 2017 is an opportunity for the next government to listen and respond to the concerns of disabled people.

We know that in 2017, disabled people continue to face barriers to access to a range of services, and especially for people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments, or complex needs, it can be a struggle to find the right tailored support.

That’s why we would like to see the next government put disabled people at the heart of their agenda, and ensure that they are supported to live full, independent lives and realise their aspirations just like everybody else.

We want to next Government to commit to:

A sustainably funded social care system, that is properly integrated with the NHS

Years of budget reductions in social care have seen fewer people receive services and levels of unmet need grow.

With recent calculations showing the social care sector needs at least an extra £1 billion per year up to 2020 just to keep afloat, we want to see a commitment for an open and transparent cross party review of the social care system, with the aim of agreeing how we fund care now and long into the future.

A sustainable NHS which is fully integrated around the needs of the individual

This would ensure disabled people receive cohesive, meaningful and timely care.

We know that many people with complex needs access multiple services which don’t link up or talk to each other, meaning they have to repeatedly state their case, waste time or fall through the gaps. This means disabled people end up not receiving the healthcare they need.

No further benefits reductions for disabled people over the course of the next parliament

With the recent reduction of around £30 a week for new recipients of the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG), and tightening of the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) criteria, we want the next Government to commit to protecting disabled people from further cuts to vital benefits that enable them to live full and independent lives.

We would also like to see the new Government commit to outlining support to reduce the cost of finding and entering employment for disabled people, including providing specialist employment support for people with complex needs.

Equal access to quality childcare for children with special education needs

There is strong evidence that high quality early education has a positive effect on children’s development and outcomes. Early education is vital to improve outcomes for the most disadvantaged children but poor, or even average quality care will add no value in the long term.

Government Ministers have already conceded that children with special education needs do not in many cases enjoy the same level of access to high quality, flexible early years provision as their peers.

Deliver a national strategy to identify, measure and address loneliness

This must include how help can be targeted at key parts of the life course and vulnerable groups, including disabled people.

Research from Sense has shown that up to 50% of disabled people will be lonely on any given day and that having a disability is a significant risk factor for social isolation.  There is strong evidence to suggest that feeling chronically lonely is as detrimental to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

We believe the next government must acknowledge that loneliness is a growing public health issue, which affects the well-being of individuals and communities and incurs significant costs to the state.

How can your voice be heard?

Sense is working to raise the profile of the needs of people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs to ensure their voices are heard in the lead up to this general election. Please contact if you would like to be involved. You can also call 0300 330 9258, or textphone 0207 520 2600

Author: Ross Matthewman

Parliamentary Manager for Sense Public Policy

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