August 2020

Previous Newsletters can be found at our 2020 newsletters web page or ar the Archived Newsletters web page

Local Organisations with an involvement in Disability and Health support services across Surrey are encouraged to submit regular reports and updates. 

Are you arranging ‘virtual’ open meetings and events? – let us help to publicise them.  Nominate any ‘Local Heroes’.  Please contact me on or text me on 07853 038933. 

Surrey County Council has reopened thirteen libraries as part of a programme to gradually reopen across the county from 6 July, in line with Government guidance. The opening hours at Camberley, Dorking, Epsom, Farnham, Godalming, Guildford, Redhill, Staines and Woking are Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. Egham and Weybridge the days are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and Horley, Oxted the days are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 2pm.

We're working hard to start reopening services in other libraries and further updates will be posted on our Coronavirus information page, which also includes information about what services are available, which services are paused, and the safety measures in place.

From 6 July, the government advises

  • you no longer need to socially distance from people you live with
  • if you want to, you can meet in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including people from other households
  • you may also form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you want to, but one of the households in the ‘support bubble’ should be a single adult household (either an adult living alone or with children under 18 only). You can all spend time together outside and inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to socially distance

From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly.  This means:

  • the government will no longer be advising you to shield
  • the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop
  • NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food you buy, prescriptions and essential items to you if you need it
  • you will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you have registered by 17 July)

You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible.

From 1 August, you’ll be advised you could go out to more places and see more people, for example, the advice is:

  • you can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure – but carry on working from home if you can
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can go back to school (when the rest of their class goes back)
  • you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise – keeping 2 metres away wherever possible

Those in receipt of centrally provided food boxes and medicine deliveries will continue to receive this support until the end of July if they want it. 

Disability Rights UK’s e-news keeping you up to date with disability equality issues, including policy news on coronavirus. DRUK Coronavirus information page as and when we receive new information. You can find this here:

Government Must Commit To Accessibility In Phase Three    
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has laid out the aims of the third phase of its economic planning as part of his Summer Statement.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “With this commitment to spending on important infrastructure projects, including roads, town centres, schools and hospitals, it is imperative that the government commits to these projects with the social model of disability at the foundation of what it plans to build.  “Disabled people are exhausted at being shut out of society because of poor design.

“The Chancellor said earlier in his speech that “no-one will be left without hope” and that the government is “driven by the simple desire to do what is right.”

“It is absolutely right that disabled people are granted the same parity of access within society as non-disabled people. We are counting on that promise of hope from the Chancellor and look forward to hearing inclusive details in the autumn Spending Review."

More Street Hazards For Disabled People  
In the Business and Planning Bill heading to the Lords, the rules for street furniture on pavements are being relaxed, to encourage alfresco eating. Councils will only need to publicise the proposed change on the patch of pavement it applies to and give five working days for objections. For those with mobility issues or sight problems, the street furniture will cause navigation and social distancing challenges.

Suspension Of PIP And ESA Face-To-Face Assessments Continues But Kept Under Review  
In March, the DWP announced the suspension of PIP and ESA face-to-face assessments for three months.

Today, the Department announced that this temporary suspension, initially brought in to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic, “will remain in place following a consideration of the latest public health guidance”.

However, some DLA and PIP review and reassessment activity will gradually resume from July 2020.

DWP Restarts Recovery Of Benefit Related Overpayments And Social Fund Loans  
The DWP has announced that it has restarted recovery of benefit related overpayments and social fund loans from 6 July.

In April, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the DWP temporarily paused the recovery of benefit overpayments, for three months. These included Housing Benefit overpayments and Social Fund Loans.

The Department said that the change would enable many benefit claimants will see an increase in the amount of money they receive in benefits during the outbreak.


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  Early Day Motion  
Caroline Lucas MP has written an Early Day Motion (EDM) which is available in Parliament for MPs to sign. Although not legally binding, EDMs help show the Government the strength of feeling among MPs on an issue.

The EDM calls for: Increased funding for respite care, A living wage for carers - rather than Carer's Allowance, Respite carers to be treated as skilled professionals

The full text of the EDM is:

"That this House commends the extraordinary care that families and Carers provide for SEND children and young people; recognises that the need to provide full time care during the Covid-19 crisis has put families under chronic additional strain and pressure; notes that 50 per cent of families with disabled children are living in poverty and that Carer’s Allowance, at £67.50 per week, is insultingly low; believes that families and carers responsible for children and young people with SEND need increased support; therefore calls for SEND schools and centres to be given bespoke covid-19 guidance that meets the particular needs and behaviours of SEND children and young people, and acknowledges the specific adaptations and timescales required for a safe return to the schools and centres they attended before lockdown; and further calls on the Government to increase funding for good quality respite care centres and respite carers to alleviate the pressure on families, to recognise the extraordinary care that people provide in their own homes by paying carers a real living wage and giving them paid annual leave, and to bring forward a strategy to recruit more respite carers that recognises and pays them as professionals with specialist skills."

View the EDM on the Parliament website.   Contact your MP to encourage them to sign it

Disabled Children Face Institutional Discrimination  
The Education Select Committee heard powerful evidence last week on the shocking situation of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

During the Coronavirus crisis, the majority of families were left to cope alone with the health, care and educational needs of their disabled children. The mental and physical health of children has deteriorated and families have been left without any support or respite. Whilst this might have been understandable in the early days of the crisis, it is completely unacceptable for this to continue.

Fazilet Hadi, DRUK Head of Policy said: “Education, Care and Health bodies need to dramatically improve their services to disabled children and their families. They need to act now to restore the wellbeing of children and families, and to work with families to shape personalised plans for September.”

ADULT SOCIAL CARE – INFORMATION AND ENGAGEMENT TEAM – News in Brief -   Coronavirus Special Briefing Information Correct on 23rd July 2020  
Current Adult Social Care – News In Brief 

Please note the current version of the ASC Briefing that is on this web site was received after the August newsletter was finalised and issued.  an earlier ACS Briefing up to 3rd July is included in SCAN's Newsletter.  

YOU DON’T LOOK SICK: - ‘People Think I’m Too Young To Be Disabled’ - Edited from a series published in telling the stories of people with invisible illness and disabilities.  
Colette Morgan, 29, from Nottingham, has coeliac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

Living with chronic illness has also contributed to Colette developing anxiety and depression. Although she has experienced chronic illness she was diagnosed with CFS/ME as a teenager, her health had improved until surgery on her right ankle in February 2018 triggered complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) a rare condition where the body responds abnormally to an injury, causing pain that is persistent, severe and lasting much longer than usual.

She was diagnosed with CRPS five months after her surgery, after a series of tests and examination by orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists and a pain clinic. Colette tells ‘I was really upset, confused and frustrated. I had the surgery on my ankle to repair an injury in the hope of being able to keep fit and active, but instead, I developed an extremely painful and life-changing condition which severely limits my mobility and impedes daily activities. Before being diagnosed I hadn’t heard of the condition and had no idea how it would affect my life. Now Colette needs crutches to get around her house as she cannot walk on her ankle and she uses a powerchair when she is out and about.

She explains: ‘I typically wake up feeling unrefreshed and in pain, I take medication upon waking up and then rest until it takes affect and I feel able to get up. I usually only leave the house every couple of days, typically for medical appointments and chores rather than fun stuff! My family and friends are great. I need a huge amount of help around the house from my lovely boyfriend; from helping me to shower to cooking, fetching things and cleaning. CRPS also causes extreme sensitivity in the affected area, meaning that anything touching her leg can cause extreme pain. I struggle with clothing and footwear I can’t tolerate tight socks or tights on my affected foot as it triggers pain.

Although Colette now uses mobility aids all the time, she says that people still say things like ‘you don’t look sick’ because to most people, she looks healthy. She says: ‘I have had people say I am too young to be disabled and infer I ought to be walking etc instead. I typically just brush it off. ‘If I am out and about using my crutches I get a lot of comments and questions, people make the assumption that I have a sports injury or temporary condition. I find these questions really intrusive and quite upsetting; it is hard to then explain to people I have a permanent condition. If I use my powerchair I don’t get as many comments, but people will then often ignore me and just talk to my boyfriend rather than me. I do worry that people will judge me for using a powerchair when I can still move and use my legs, I get self-conscious about stretching or fidgeting with my legs.’

She says: ‘My use of mobility aids makes my disabilities more visible, but I do feel people ought to be more empathetic towards those with hidden illnesses. Too often there is an assumption that just because a person is younger, they can’t be disabled. ‘Things are beginning to change, but more does need to happen. ‘I also struggle with accessing a lot of places, too many shops/bars/restaurants have steps into the premises and do not provide any form of ramp or way for wheelchair users to access the building.’

If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email You will need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you and have some time to have some pictures taken.