|Botched ESA switch sees 5,000 die before receiving benefits
A government error saw 5,000 chronically ill and disabled people die before they could receive benefits they were entitled to. The error occurred when they were switched over from incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance to employment and support allowance (ESA).
The DWP failed to follow its own guidance in properly checking claimants’ full entitlements before switching, A review is now being undertaken of 600,000 cases with 122,000 people being paid on average £5,000 to which they are entitled.
DRUK’s Evan Odell said: “That 5,000 disabled people were denied the proper support to live independently before they died is scandalous, as is the 112,000 people who had had to wait years for these errors to be corrected.
“To make matters worse, the problems with the employment and support allowance system that have led to hundreds of millions of pounds of arrears payments are still present. Seventy-five per cent of ESA applicants who appeal DWP decisions to the social security tribunal win; this case is merely one more piece of evidence showing how ESA is not fit for purpose.” More here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/january/5000-died-without-benefit-entitlements-botched-esa-switch
Don’t push the Red Button service, BBC urged
A consortium of Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) including The National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) and Disability Rights UK is calling on the BBC to keep its Red Button Teletext service which is set to be withdrawn at the end of January 2020.
The Red Button service has largely been replaced in popular use by internet services, but for visually impaired, D/deaf, disabled, older people and other hard to reach social groups, many of whom do not have internet access, it is a vital service.
The consortium is concerned that withdrawal of the service will leave many people who are already vulnerable further isolated and marginalised from society. It has fears that the BBC may not be meeting its obligations set out in the Royal Charter for public broadcast if the Red Button Teletext service is withdrawn. More here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/january/dpo-consortium-calls-bbc-not-push-red-button-service
Half of disabled travellers feel they can’t fly, finds Which? survey
A lack of adaptations by travel-related businesses has led to half of all disabled people feeling they cannot fly according to a survey of disabled people by Which? Travel and the Research Institute of Disabled Consumers (RIDC).
A quarter were dissatisfied with the assistance available, rising to nearly a third for Heathrow services.
A lack of staff to provide legally necessary assistance has resulted in passengers’ safety being put in peril. Airports do not provide self-propelled wheelchairs, and disabled people who don’t use wheelchairs also feel discriminated against, feeling that staff only class wheelchair users as disabled.
Travel blogger Martin Sibley points out the business case for better travel for disabled people. “If we’ve got 1.3 billion people with disabilities in the world, that equates to $8 trillion of spending power. In 2020, I believe it’s the right thing that everybody should be included in transport.”
Travel writer Emily Rose Yates told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s tough to keep going when the stuffing has been knocked out of you and you just can’t bear the thought of encountering another damaged wheelchair disembarking the plane with you, or explaining once again to the hotel manager that accessibility does not mean a lift with five steps up to it.”
The RIDC has created a web resource to help people ask for the help they need when travelling: https://www.ridc.org.uk/news/special-assistance-airports.
More here: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/01/almost-half-of-disabled-people-feel-they-cant-travel-by-air/
Large increase in disability employment discrimination cases
An analysis of cases being brought to employment tribunals published by the Financial Times has shown a “surge” in cases of disability discrimination. DRUK’s Evan Odell said:
“The increase in disability discrimination cases being brought to tribunal after the removal of tribunal fees was entirely predictable. But many barriers to justice remain for disabled people. Cuts to legal aid and the lack of support for law centres means many disabled people struggle to access free and impartial legal advice about their employment rights, or face financial barriers to bringing a claim even without the fees. Many employers large and small also remain unaware of their legal duties towards disabled employees and the benefits of having disabled people on staff, as well as programmes like Access to Work that can pay for the cost of many reasonable adjustments.” Read the full story here:
Disabled persons’ employment up by 350,000
Employment data released earlier this month shows that an estimated 4.2 million disabled are in work, an increase of 354,000 from the previous year. This represents 53.2% of disabled people, up from 51.2% a year previously. However the number of disabled people who are economically inactive also increased slightly. There remains a large ‘disability employment gap’. The employment rate of disabled people is 28.6% lower than non-disabled people. The full report can be read at: https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7540#fullreport