300k unpaid carers and 450k Disabled people to suffer UC cut
Over 300,000 Disabled people’s unpaid carers, and 450,000 Disabled people and families with Disabled children, are among those who will face the £1,000 annual Universal Credit benefit cut which started this week.
The Government is adamant it will not reverse the cuts, even though food and fuel prices are rising quickly and drastically.
Rules around carers’ benefits make it hard to take on paid work. To receive the Universal Credit carer element, a person has to spend at least 35 hours a week looking after a severely Disabled person.
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, said: “This cut will be an absolute catastrophe for struggling families who are already up against it, including unpaid carers, who face Conservative tax hikes and spiralling price rises this winter.
“The government’s assertion that people can simply work more hours to make up for their cut doesn’t stack up for those already working full time or with caring responsibilities.” Read more on how the cut will affect carers here.
Both Labour and the Conservatives have highlighted ‘hard working families’ at their party conferences, not mentioning those who cannot work and are dependent on Universal Credit, or on other legacy benefits which did not receive the uplift.
Baroness Stroud is set to challenge the withdrawal of the uplift with a vote in the House of Lords. She said: “There are people who are out of work who will move back into work, but there are also 450,000 who will move into poverty today as a result of this who have disabilities or who have children with disabilities.
“It is not just people who are in employment or should be moving into employment who claim Universal Credit and I think we have to be really honest about who is claiming UC and why they’re there.
“Our safety net is supposed to protect vulnerable people and that includes people who are sick, disabled and who have disabled children at this time.”
Care home workers without jab should get other jobs – Sajid Javid
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said there will be no change to the deadline of 11 November for care home staff to be double vaccinated.
The National Care Association (NCA) had asked the government to delay the deadline, saying there will be a knock-on effect on the NHS if care homes have to cut resident numbers. Nadra Ahmed, Chairman of the NCA said: “We are not anti-vaccine. What we are saying is we needed a bit more time to get people where they needed to be.”
Speaking on Radio 4 he said: “If you work in a care home you are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our country and if you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated, then get out and go and get another job. If you are not going to get vaccinated then why are you working in care?” Read more here.
Return of 14 year old exams despite rise in school refusal and mental health issues for teens
The Department for Education is considering bringing back national testing for 14-year-olds, reports The Guardian.
The new Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, is considering reintroducing externally marked standard assessment tests (Sats) which were scrapped by Labour in 2008 after a number of inquiries found that they fuelled a “pervasive anxiety” in younger pupils’ lives and distorted children’s education. Sats currently take place at ages seven and 11, in English, maths and sometimes science.
There are around 770,000 school refusers according to government figures, but The Times is reporting another 135,000 who have not turned up for school this autumn, post-pandemic.
DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “The figures for school refusers are shocking, and there are many more who are no longer refusers who have been off-rolled and are home schooled because they cannot cope with the culture of stress in many schools. These children often experience mental health conditions including high anxiety.
“Children are bearing the brunt of budget cuts, a crisis in SEND provision, and a culture of pervasive testing, all of which massively impact their health.
“The Minister needs to address the fact that almost ten per cent of school-attending children are struggling and need a learning culture that puts their wellbeing, not testing, first.”
Whorlton Hall – nine charged
Nine people have been charged with abusing patients with learning difficulties at Whorlton Hall, the hospital first exposed for abusing its patients by a Panorama programme in 2019.
Whorlton Hall was privately run but funded by the NHS.
The former staff will appear at Newton Aycliffe magistrates court on 9 November 2021. Read more here.
Prezzo leaves Disabled man to eat in the rain
A Disabled man was left to eat outside in the rain at the Romsey branch of Prezzo after the pizza restaurant failed to provide access for him to enter the building.
Michael Grimmett, Team Leader for Disabled People’s Organisation, SPECTRUM, tweeted Prezzo on Friday 1 October to ask how he could make a complaint. The tweet went viral.
Having posted a video of himself sitting under a parasol in torrential rain, he wrote: “Hey, @love_prezzo, how does one make a complaint about the lack of ramp access at your Romsey restaurant. I mean you do have a ramp, but it doesn’t fit the doorway, your management were so so rude, forcing me to eat outside in the rain. A unique experience.” The tweet went viral.
Prezzo says it has now acted swiftly to procure a new ramp.
DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “Michael’s experience is all too common. Disabled people are often locked out of day to day life in public spaces because businesses fail to make the reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act, as is their legal duty. We need tougher equality legislation and inspection, the burden of challenging non-compliance shouldn’t fall on Disabled people.”
Dartmoor accessibility threatened
Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) has launched a consultation on new bylaws that would reduce wild camping areas and fine trespassers £500.
Dartmoor campaigner John Bainbridge told The Guardian: “Our national parks were created for the benefit of the public after the Kinder Scout mass trespass in the 1930s. They were not intended to be ruled over by control-freak park authorities,” he said. “At a time when more and more people are seeking to explore the outdoors, Dartmoor’s Park authorities are actually making it more difficult.”
Dartmoor is the only place in England and Wales where people have a right to wild camp.
Shamus McCaffery, who worked as a search and rescue specialist for 20 years, said many of the areas covered by the proposed ban were easy to access and used by less experienced campers, families and Disabled people. “Now is not the time to reduce access. Now is the time to open up the countryside and provide for the nation. That’s the whole point of national parks.”
Get Yourself Active research shows the need for changes in sport and leisure sectors
New research published by Get Yourself Active has examined the experiences of Disabled people getting active during the pandemic. The survey shows clear barriers for Disabled people who wanted to be active during the pandemic – with self-isolating, the impact on health, the fear of contracting the virus, and concerns about social distancing the main barriers preventing activity.
The report is essential reading for those in the sport and leisure sectors. It provides key recommendations for anyone who providing activities to Disabled people. You can access the full report here.
Watch our bus events
From 20-22 September 2021, Bus Users UK and Disability Rights UK ran a series of three online events in association with Confederation of Passenger Transport, Blackpool Transport and Brighton & Hove Buses. These events brought together bus operators, local authorities, transport bodies, passengers and disability charities. The aim – to improve access to transport by ensuring Bus Service Improvement Plans are developed with disabled people and built around their lived experiences. Watch the events here.