Headlines > What the UK elections mean for those with disabilities

Posted on May 31, 2017

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Alternative abilities ambassador Chris Cooper investigates what the parties are offering vulnerable people
In 2015 an investigation by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities declared that this country has made some grave and systematic violations on disabled people’s rights.

The UK government responded, strongly disagreeing with the findings and claiming to have fulfilled its obligations.

The forthcoming general election will give disabled people – as well as their families and friends – a chance to choose which political party will address concerns arising from the UN investigation.

It’s a chance to improve society’s reputation on how we treat disabled people.

I feel the most important issues that disabled people face are as follows:

1. Support into work
2. Disability allowance
3. Accessibility
4. Bullying/discrimination

This is how the political parties say they will address these issues in their manifestos.

Conservatives
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1. Regarding the matter of Support into work they are promising to get one million disabled people into work in the next 10 years.

2. In the area of Disability Allowance they have not been clear, other than to say there are no proposed changes to welfare at the moment.

3. They give a response to Accessibility, promising to improve disability access to business, housing and parking.

4. On the theme of Bullying and Discrimination they will clamp down on online bullying by working with internet companies and they will also clamp down on disability discrimination.

Greens
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The manifesto has a section on aims regarding disabled people.

1. The Greens goal for Supporting into work is to help disabled people into employment through a community based supported employment scheme which will ensure that businesses give 5% of their work to disabled people.

2. One of their objectives on Disability benefits is to improve the benefits system to give people confidence and support, including disabled people.

3. On the subject of Accessibility the Greens will ensure that all public transport is step free for people with accessibility issues.

4. On the issue of Bullying and Discrimination they are looking to clamp down on discrimination on the basis of disability as well as race and sexuality.

Labour
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1. One of the recommendations that Labour promises with Support into work is to commission a report into the current ‘access to work’ programme that helps get disabled people into work. They will work with employers, trade unions and public services to improve awareness in society.

2. One of the targets that Labour has for Disability Benefits is to scrap the privatised welfare assessments and put the responsibility back into the public sector.

3. In the area of Accessibility Labour will give British Sign Language full recognition as a recognised language, and improve wheelchair accessibility on public transport.

4. On the subject of Bullying and Discrimination Labour will act against this through removing barriers and ensuring social security gives dignity to people. The Labour party is committed to signing the the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into UK law.

LibDems
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1. Regarding Support into work the LibDems are going to expand and raise awareness of the ‘access to work’ scheme getting disabled people into work. They will develop a better relationship with job centres and work providers and work with the NHS to ensure disabled people are getting the care and support they are entitled to while in work.

2. The LibDems proposal on Disability Benefits is like Labour. They will also scrap the privatised welfare assessment scheme and replace it with a new system run by local authorities.

3. Their intention on Accessibility is to continue the ‘Access for all’ programme which improves disability access on public transport.

4. The plan for the LibDems on Bullying and Discrimination is that they want to tackle bullying, in general, in schools, regardless of gender, sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, but they do not elaborate on how.

UKIP
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1. There is no mention of Support into work for disabled people.

2. UKIP’s idea for Disability Benefits is to change the benefits system for disabled people by protecting them but they do not elaborate.

3. UKIP make no mention of Accessibility other than people with high mobility needs will be able to get an accessible car.

4. On the topic of Bullying and Discrimination UKIP will address and review the issues regarding cyber bulling but do not elaborate.

In my view, certain parties have made really good arguments and suggestions around key areas of policy in relation to disability issues while some have not addressed them fully in their manifestos.

I would advise the disabled community to look at each party’s manifesto carefully before deciding who to vote for. It’s important everyone votes so that the concerns of people with disabilities are listened to properly.

Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper is Exposure’s legendary Alternative Abilities Ambassador. When he’s not being an example to young people with disabilities and championing their rights, he enjoys art, ice-skating and photography.

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