3 June 2020
- UK’s 14 million disabled people are being “forgotten by the Government” and “allowed to fall through the cracks”, say disability charities.
- Ten charities have jointly expressed their dismay that many key services for disabled people have failed to secure emergency Coronavirus funding.
- Members of the Disability Charities Consortium (DCC) warn of a perfect storm placing many services on the brink.
Ten disability charities have today criticised the Government for failing to represent the interests of disabled people.
Disability Charity Consortium (DCC) members say the UK’s 14 million disabled people are being “forgotten by the Government” and “allowed to fall through the cracks”.
Vital services for people with a physical disability in particular have missed out on emergency funding so far. The DCC has highlighted a lack of a coherent strategy to specifically support disabled people through the pandemic and beyond, with many services suspended and facing a perilous future.
Whilst some money has been made available for mental health, autism and learning disability it is nowhere near enough to match the demand for services.
This is despite disabled people being the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many of the DCC members have submitted written evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee showing how this is the case.
Disability Charity Consortium members say essential services may have to stop and this could lead to ‘unthinkable consequences’ for the future. Social care services are facing massive staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) purchase costs, with organisations spending up to £800,000 a month on PPE alone. Meanwhile helplines have seen calls soared by up to 80%. Charities have also rapidly digitised services and programmes to keep them running during lockdown.
The Consortium members are: Scope, Sense, Mind, Action on Hearing Loss, Business Disability Forum, Mencap, National Autistic Society, RNIB, Disability Rights UK and Leonard Cheshire.
The Co-Chairs of the Disability Charities Consortium Neil Heslop, CEO of Leonard Cheshire and Mark Hodgkinson, CEO of Scope, said in a joint statement:
“Despite repeated efforts to raise the issue, it feels like the UK’s 14 million disabled people, particularly those with physical conditions, are being forgotten and allowed to fall through the cracks.
“Providers of services are facing spiralling costs, a rapid drop in income from cancelled fundraising activities, but huge surges in demand as a result of the crisis, creating the perfect storm.
“Right now, we are collectively supporting millions of disabled people who are anxious, isolated and alone. Our staff are providing vital services, information and support under incredibly difficult circumstances. Sometimes we are the only place that disabled people have to turn.
“We want to be there for every disabled person who needs us, but this could soon be an impossibility. Disability charities, large and small, are at risk of disappearing at the very time that disabled people need us most. Without vital funds, we will have stark choices to make about cutting services or, in some cases, closing our doors.”
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Notes to editors
Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people living with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality.