There was a lot of good information at our conference on the 19th. That’s only to be expected with a Law Professor, a fundraising organisation and a host of disabled people’s organisations pitching in at our event in Wrexham. Consequently, we’re making the info available to you with the press release, photos and conference slides below. The materials could teach you how to fund your organisation. As a minimum, it will keep you informed about the direction of disabled people’s campaigning in our changing political landscape.
*** For Immediate Dissemination ***
Growing Deprivation Among Disabled People
Discussed at Conference.
On 19th October 2016, Disability Wales held its thirtieth annual conference and AGM in Wrexham. The title, ‘New Directions’, refers to the conference’s theme concerning the outlook for disabled people as our society undergoes Brexit, changes its political makeup and undergoes the changes austerity is bringing. While many delegates spoke, the keynote speaker, Professor Anna Lawson of the Centre for Disability Studies, stood out for her analysis of disabled people’s situation.
Professor Lawson noted that cuts targeting disabled people are 9 times higher than for other groups, as according to the Duffy Centre for Welfare Reform. As a result, the 8% of the population who are disabled have borne 29% of all the austerity cuts. 12.6% of the UK population over 16 with impairments is living with severe deprivation, which was only 5.8% in 2008. In eight years of austerity, the figure has more than doubled.
The situation with accessibility is also concerning. 9% of disabled adults have difficulty getting into any room in their own homes. Also the English Housing Survey found only 6% of housing in 2013 had all four accessible features.
This is part of a wider picture of deprivation amongst disabled people. In 2014, 6% of adults without impairments were at a risk of severe material deprivation. That figure was 18.6% for those of working age with impairments, and 29.4% for young people with an impairment.
Also in 2014, 18.4% of working age people with impairments were unable to afford a meal on every second day. By comparison, that was true of 7.5% of working age people without impairments, which foregrounds the disproportionate burden disabled people are carrying.
The presentation noted that since legal aid has been cut, disabled people have been unable to seek redress in the courts for discrimination. Due to the way disability laws work, disabled people are often only able to take people to court once they have been discriminated against, yet as that depends on access to justice, disability discrimination is going unchallenged. Consequently, the cuts have made it harder for disabled people to access justice.
Professor Lawson also described the effect of the end of the Independent Living Fund. According to the National Audit Office, there was a 7% reduction in expenditure on adult social care between 2011 – 12 and 2014 – 15. Moreover, 26% of long term care users had difficulty in finding out about personal budget systems.
The statistics paint the picture that a recession caused by financiers and government mis-spending was used to justify cuts that disproportionately hurt disabled people. The effects have reduced disabled people’s standards of living and contravened their human rights. Also, by placing more people in deprivation, austerity continues to reduce demand in society. However Professor Anna Lawson also applauded those disability organisations such as Disability Wales who were working hard on the broader spectrum of disability issues such as inclusion, autonomy and accessibility.
Professor Lawson noted that if we do come out of Europe, we should watch progress on disability issues so that the UK doesn’t fall behind. Only this year has the Council of Europe produced a new directive that requires accessibility to be factored into public projects.
The conference also featured updates from Disability Wales’s projects Enabling Wales, Citizens Directed Co-operatives Cymru (CDCC), and Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL).
The Enabling Wales Project has announced that two groups have been selected to create independent living centres in Wales. These will be in Ceredigion and Flintshire. The former will be run by Disabled People Together, Mencap Ceredigion, and Creative Lifestyle Solutions. In Flintshire, the independent living centre will be run by ‘The FDF’.
The Citizens Directed Co-operatives Cymru project has hired a Cooperative Development Manager to help with the creation of a direct payments co-operative in Monmouthshire. The project aims to create a citizen led co-operative of disabled people that can hire care services for its members. This should increase the uptake of direct payments while empowering disabled people.
The Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning project (DRILL) has taken its first tranche of research applications. The project is facilitating the co-production of research between disabled people and academic researchers in order to identify new areas for study and remove any unhelpful bias from studies. The focus is not of producing research on disabled people but rather with disabled people. It is thought to be the first time this approach has been taken.
Moreover, Emma Jones a spokesperson from the fundraising organisation Local Giving gave a presentation. Ms Jones provided information about Local Giving’s current Big Lottery Fund scheme to provide free fundraising support to 250 Welsh charity and volunteering groups for a year. The scheme could help big or small disability groups fundraise to pay for projects that they would like to complete, and the free support includes fundraising training. Also in the project, there is the ability to add gift aid onto donations, as well as match funding opportunities.
Notes to editors
- Please attribute pictures to Jeff Brattan-Wilson. The link for the photographs is: https://www.facebook.com/disabilitywales/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154024896587151
- For media enquiries, please contact:
- William Sullivan, Digital Marketing and Social Media Officer 02920 887325 / 07748 903 178 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales 029 20887325 / 07775 504 540 email@example.com
- Disability Wales is the national association of disabled people’s organisations in Wales championing the rights, equality and independence of all disabled people. It was set up in 1972 as Wales Council for the Disabled.
- Professor Anna Lawson is a Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Disability Studies. Also, she is co-ordinator of the Disability Law Hub. In addition, Professor Lawson has played lead roles in a range of interdisciplinary national and multinational research projects for NHS England, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the EU Commission. She has delivered papers in over 30 countries, and regularly advises national as well as international bodies on disability issues. In July 2016, Professor Lawson was appointed as an Adjunct Member to the Graduate Programme in Critical Disability Studies at York University (Toronto, Canada). Outside academia, she is working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, China Vision and Justice.
 The four ‘visitability’ features are level access, flush threshold, sufficiently wide door and circulation space, and a toilet at entrance level.
Our Members Were There
Of course, members gained entry to the conference and AGM, which let them see the above being presented live. They could also share their views, and join in the debate. If you would like to become a member, simply fill out the membership form here.