DISABILITY RIGHTS UK (DRUK) - News In Brief - January 2021

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Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief       
We are run by and for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions.

Our key decisions are made through our members who elect the Board of Trustees: and by our Senior Management Team.

We work with our members to influence national policy on independent living, benefits, education, employment, transport, human rights and other issues – shaping policy through direct experience and expertise.

We also work with our local individual and organisation members to empower and to influence local policy and services.

To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see   www.disabilityrightsuk.org/contact-us

January 2021    
Call For Delivery Charges To Be Scrapped For Shielders      
DR UK is supporting calls for supermarkets to scrap delivery charges for people most at risk of Coronavirus this winter. 

Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has published a new report warning that many people are facing mounting costs as they struggle to access food over Christmas. The charity, which leads a consortium on food access during the pandemic including DR UK, is appealing for action as people who cannot shop in supermarkets due to health risks – and at the advice of the Government – are being unfairly penalised through delivery charges and minimum spends on online supermarket shopping. 

In April, supermarkets worked with the government to introduce priority slots for people of all ages at most risk from the virus, and many of these slots had no delivery charges. 

Since August, with the partial easing of restrictions, some supermarkets have been reintroducing delivery charges for all priority slots. Fears have also been raised that social distancing and other safety measures are not being properly enforced in supermarkets. 

Recent Independent Age / YouGov polling* shows that three quarters of people (77%) agree that those who are unable to shop in supermarkets due to their age or underlying health conditions should not have to pay online delivery charges. 

There is even more support for the removal of minimum spends on grocery deliveries. 81% of people agree that minimum spends on online orders should be scrapped for those who are unable to shop in supermarkets due to the health risk. 

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “In November, DR UK asked all the major supermarkets to confirm their policies on help with food supply for shielders. This work has informed the consortium’s campaigning this Autumn and Winter. 

Not one supermarket now offers free delivery, and all have a minimum spend policy. “This is in effect a tax on Disabled people who do not have the option of safely shopping in person in their local shops to get best value. It is practically impossible for Disabled people who are living on benefits to afford these charges. “We join the calls for the removal of minimum spends and delivery charges. For Disabled people, these should be treated as reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.”  

Read the responses DR UK received from supermarkets. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59100&qid=9047809 

1.5 Million Children Will Need Mental Health Support Due To Pandemic      
Dr Lisa Cameron, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability, of which DR UK is the secretariat, told MPs: “Children with disabilities have often been most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

In terms of immediate impact, people with disabilities have accounted for six out of 10 deaths involving Covid-19, while Mencap’s social care survey has shown that seven out of 10 people with a learning disability have had their social care provision reduced as a result of the pandemic.  

Looking at long-term consequences, the Centre for Mental Health estimates that 1.5 million children will need mental health support for conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the pandemic. 

The NHS’s digital report anticipates a 50% increase in mental health problems for children and young people as a result of the pandemic.  When we account for the heightened immediate impact of Covid-19 on children with disabilities, coupled with the mental health consequences predicted for young people, it quickly becomes apparent that the wellbeing and inclusion of children with special educational needs and disabilities must be prioritised.” 

Government To Scrap Unconscious Bias Training      
The government is scrapping its unconscious bias training for all civil servants in England. The training was designed to help people to recognise patterns of discrimination or prejudice they may not have been aware of.

The government alleges there is no evidence to suggest it changes the way people think about discrimination, and that it may backfire and create more hostility towards demographic groups which face discrimination. It is urging other public sector employers to end such training too. 

The Junior Minister, Julia Lopez MP, who oversees work in the Cabinet Office’s Equalities Hub which includes the Disability Unit, has released a written statement on why the training is being withdrawn. 

The statement says: “There is clearly a role for training to support a more inclusive workplace and Civil Service, evidence also suggests that even the broader category of ‘diversity training’ as a standalone exercise can undermine such efforts if it appears to be a “tick box exercise”. The Civil Service will therefore integrate principles for inclusion and diversity into mainstream core training and leadership modules in a manner which facilitates positive behaviour change. This new strategy will be published in the new year and will reassert our commitment to being an inclusive employer with a stronger focus on engaging measurable action.” 

DR UK Head of Policy said: “The withdrawal of one scheme without the introduction of a new one shows a lack of commitment to Disability equality. It would surely have been better to have withdrawn this scheme after the implementation of the new, as yet to be announced, proposals. The government’s actions towards Disabled people this year have shown that it has a very long way to go in embedding a culture of inclusion.”  

Issued Mid January 2021  
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Guidance - Updated   
Government guidance for people who have been identified as 'clinically extremely vulnerable' has been updated today (Thursday 7th January 2021). 

Please click here https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59155&qid=9078372 

Select Committee: Pandemic Effects” On Disabled People’s Access To Services   
Disabled people have suffered a range of profoundly adverse effects from the pandemic, including starkly disproportionate deaths, says a report published today by the Women and Equalities Committee. 

Committee Chair, Caroline Nokes MP, said “Disabled people who already faced substantial barriers to equal participation in society have suffered a range of profoundly adverse effects. 

Our inquiry heard extensive evidence from disabled people of the profoundly unequal adverse effects: our report makes the case for an independent inquiry into the causes.” 

You can read more by clicking https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59156&qid=9078372 

Shaping Our Lives Publish Report Highlighting Disability Issues Raised By COVID-19      
Lived Experience Alliance members Shaping Our Lives have published a series of key reports highlighting the disability issues that COVID-19 raises. 

"The voices of disabled people were getting lost, even while their “vulnerabilities” were mentioned almost daily in the news" This article highlights the need for action, and for a louder collective voice, which the Alliance are actively developing, along with our partners and allies. 

You can read more https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59157&qid=9078372

COVID-19 Vaccination: What Do People With Sensory And Physical Disabilities Most Need To Know?     
Lucy Wills, our new Lived Experience Alliance Manager, has written a blog on the vaccination roll out and key information for disabled people. https://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.com/ 

Rail Replacement Vehicles: Extension Of Non-Accessible Period To 30 September 2021     
The government has agreed to allow coach and bus operators who provide rail replacement services, to apply for time limited special authorisations for a period of up to 9 months from 1st January 2021 to 30th September 2021. 

Disability Rights UK's new Rail Policy Adviser, Stephen Brookes, said "I think everyone saw this coming. We seem to be busy saying 'I told you so' over so much going on particularly with Covid creating a reoccurring theme where accessibility is a growing victim of policy change and cost cutting. This is just not acceptable."

You can read more by clicking https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59159&qid=9078372

Blue Badge Permit 'Shocking Disparity' Revealed     
A BBC investigation has revealed that people with hidden disabilities and conditions such as Autism and Parkinson's Disease are much less likely to be approved for a Blue Badge. 

Of 109 councils who responded to a BBC Shared Data Unit Freedom of Information Request, 80% had higher approval rates for physical conditions. In ten councils the disparity between physical and hidden conditions was more than 50%. 

Disability Rights UK's Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi, said “The unequal treatment of disabled people with non-visible impairments in the blue badge application process is truly shocking. Councils need to urgently review their processes.” “The current failure to provide blue badges to people with non-visible impairments is discriminatory and causing real hardship”. 

You can read more by clicking https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59178&qid=9078372

Government Recruiting Disability And Access Ambassadors The Cabinet Office has announced it is recruiting Disability and Access Ambassadors to "help ensure businesses are doing all they can to support their disabled customers". 

The fourteen posts will support government with their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and also feed into the National Disability Strategy. 

You can read more https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=59160&qid=9078372 

SCAN EDITOR’S Note - Ambassadors undertake this voluntary role alongside their day job and are not paid to undertake it.