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New UK disability claims double in past year, with fastest rise among teens – IFS

Worsening health in Britain has led the number of new disability benefit claims to double in the past year, according to a report.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said claims for the personal independence payment (Pip) benefit had doubled to 30,000 a month between the summer of 2021 and July this year, with no sign of slowing.

Standing in stark contrast to years of relatively little change in the number of Pip awards made by the Department for Work and Pensions, it said the recent increase in recipients had taken place across medical conditions and ages, with the fastest rise among teenagers, where claim rates have tripled.

The IFS said the figures suggested the rise was being driven by worsening health across the population, “something for which there is now accumulating evidence across a number of sources”.

Labour seized on the report as the latest sign that years of underinvestment in the health and social care system and wider public services under the Conservatives was contributing to record levels of sickness among working-age adults, more people on NHS waiting lists, and spiralling backlogs of people waiting for support.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Ministers can’t ignore these findings. The backlog in assessments for disability benefits must be tackled and employment support must be reformed, as Labour has proposed, to offer specialist help to those who want to find work.”

The IFS said that whatever the causes, the consequences of worsening health and rising disability benefit claims would contribute to higher government spending on welfare. Currently there are 2.8 million claimants, whose payments cost the state £15bn a year.

“This rise could certainly add several billion more,” said Sam Ray-Chaudhuri, a research economist at IFS and an author of the report. “We see a doubling in claims at essentially every age and for most major conditions, from mental illness to arthritis and back pain.”

The study showed about a third of new claims were for mental health conditions, although among claimants under 25 that figure rose to 70%.

Rising applications to disability benefits has also led to a backlog of about 250,000 people waiting for their claim to be assessed. The IFS said that although this did not appear to have added to waiting times, they were already long at 18 weeks on average.

This article was published on The Guardian by Richard Partington and the full story can be accessed and read here https://www.theguardian.com/bu...

Mum whose son's disability means he needs room heated to 21C can't afford Christmas

A mum whose disabled son needs his room heated to 21C to avoid hypothermia says the cost of living crisis means she can't afford to treat her kids this Christmas.

Single mum Anna Tesdale, 40, lives in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, with her three children, Mac, 15, George, 18, and 21-year-old Charlie.

Five years ago Charlie, who Anna described as being a “funny, incredible” man, was diagnosed with a “life limiting” degenerative brain condition called SPG11.

“He has gone from playing tennis all the time, being very sporty, to five years later, being a full-time wheelchair user,” Anna told the Mirror.

“Some days it’s almost like having a 21-year-old toddler. He can walk some steps, but he falls a lot so he needs constant watching. He needs help showering and to take his medication and we do all of his financial stuff because he has no concept of money."

Anna, who is qualified as a social worker but works as Charlie’s full-time carer, says his needs impact his siblings in ways that are increasing with the cost-of-living crisis.

Anna said: “Charlie can’t monitor his own temperature, so he gets cold easily and if he gets too cold, he could go hypothermic. That’s why we’re so careful and have an electric heater to heat his room properly, but we can’t always afford to heat the rest of the house.”

At first, Mac and George didn’t understand why the house was so cold, but Charlie’s room had heat so Anna had to honestly explain the situation to her children.

This article was published on The Mirror by Alice Peacock and the full story can be accessed and read here https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/...

Town Hall lift - a disability campaigner’s experience

A local disability campaigner has told the Chronicle that she first highlighted issues with the new lift at the town hall in Abergavenny almost a year ago.

In last week’s Chronicle Monmouthshire County Council admitted that it had identified a number of ‘snags’ which were being worked on but now disability campaigner Benita Kelly has pointed out that the main ‘snag’ is that the lift is too small to accommodate mobility scooters or large wheelchairs

“MCC says that the age of the building has caused issues but the age of the building is immaterial. Accessibility should have steered the refurbishments from the start and if that location could not offer a big enough lift, then the lift should have been placed elsewhere,” said Ms Kelly.

“The bottom line is that the lift is not suitable for mobility scooters, large wheelchairs or double pushchairs, barring a large number of Abergavenny residents from accessing either the library or Borough Theatre. The irony of that is that there are designated disabled seats in the theatre!

“I am aware that solutions are being sought (“a building specific access management plan”) but that will entail disabled people asking for help.

“In 2022 disabled people should be able to access public buildings without having to ask for help! Many will not feel confident enough to do so and will simply decide not to use the facilities. One would have thought that the original planners would have had training in these matters,” she said.

“The previous lift, which served the town hall and the Borough Theatre and which is not ideal, will have to be brought back into use and staffed before and after theatre performances. Library staffing must be increased so that the previous lift can be used when needed.”

To prove her point Ms Kelly visited the town hall earlier this week and strugged to go beyond the entrance due to the heavy, non-automated door and had to wait for someone to hold it open for her to even get through.

The lift itself was a tight fit for Ms Kelly and her mobility scooter - something which is acknowledged by a notice on the door, which warns that the lift is not accessible to mobility scooters... but does not warn that wheelchairs and double buggies will also struggle.

When Ms Kelly attempted to use the lift to physically demonstrate how unusable it was, the doors closed on her before she was halfway on, begging the question of how she and other members of the public would fair on getting out of the lift in time if their scooters or wheelchairs were able to fit in the first place.

“ If you do manage to get on it, the lift deposits you in front of a banister with little room to manoeuvre a wheelchair. People who use purpose built wheelchairs, which are too big to go in the lift, cannot transfer to a smaller wheelchair and there is the whole issue as well of what might happen if they were to fall in the process. The planners obviously had no disability training. This really means that disabled people cannot use either the theatre or the library.”

This article was published on The Abergavenny Chronicle by Lois McCarthy and the full story can be accessed and read here https://www.abergavennychronic...

Disability inclusion is not discretionary. It is a must

Although I was diagnosed with ocular albinism at six months old, my parents made the decision to not inform me and I was raised as a sighted child, attended a ‘normal’ mainstream school and my low vision was never discussed.

I inadvertently found out the ‘truth’ when I was 17 and refused to accept it as I did not want to deal with it. I threw myself into the closet and proceeded to dwell there for the next 11 years. At 28, I finally began the journey of self-acceptance.

The irony of the phrase ‘hiding in plain sight’ was not lost on me as I contorted my needs and stifled my voice. I was petrified of being a burden or asking for help. Back then, I thought that asking for help would be deemed as attention seeking, that my peers would view me as less than and not capable of doing my job.

I spent so much of my formative years passing as a sighted person and finding workarounds that when I could no longer mask my needs, I did not know how to tell my employers. Holding back such an integral part of who I was felt exhausting and I found myself trebling my workload. Never again.

More than 1.3 billion people across the world live with some form of disability and, with an ageing population, this number is steadily increasing. Having an inclusive society that benefits everyone needs to shift from being an ideal into a fully-fledged reality.

It is unacceptable for CEOs, board members and other key decision makers to continue to ignore 20% of the population. Whilst I may be legally blind, having limited sight does not stop me from having vision and I truly believe in the power of the collective.

"Whilst I may be legally blind, having limited sight does not stop me from having vision and I truly believe in the power of the collective."

By galvanising 500 of the world’s most powerful CEOs to commit to putting disability inclusion in their business agendas we can affect real and meaningful change. Leaders know that it is in their interest to join our community and they trust us to point them in the right direction when it comes to inclusion. This is all about ensuring culture change – leaders make choices and choices create culture.

There is a desperate need for systemic change – not just inspiring moments. Despite a growing focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in business, disability continues to be caught in a systemic blind spot, preventing true change from occurring.

We must interrogate why disability inclusion remains the poor cousin of D&I and do better. The New York Times recently published an expose that featured doctors openly admitting that people with disabilities were less desirable patients, with discriminatory discourse that portrayed disability as an inconvenience.

Unfortunately, this study was merely symptomatic of a wider issue across business and society, which is an understanding that the disability community is not of value.

This article was published on The World Economic Forum by Caroline Casey and the full story can be accessed and read here https://www.weforum.org/agenda...

Disability minister fails to express support on disabled people’s international day

The new minister for disabled people failed to send a message of support on the UN’s international day of disabled people… although he did find time to publish a post about Small Business Saturday.

The two events took place on the same day, Saturday 3 December, but Tom Pursglove (pictured) chose to post about recognising the “enormous contribution made to local life” by small businesses in his Corby constituency, while staying silent about the importance of disability rights.

Although he retweeted posts about the international day of disabled people by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Disability Unit and the UK parliament, he chose not to publish a post of his own about disability rights or the UN disability convention, either on Twitter or Facebook.

It is not the first time a minister for disabled people has neglected to send a message of support to disabled people on their international day.

Three years ago, Disability News Service reported how not one of the seven ministers for disabled people who had served in the post since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 issued a message of support on social media on 3 December.

A DWP spokesperson declined to say this week how Pursglove explained failing to send a message on the international day of disabled people, or if he would apologise.

The day before the international day, on Friday (2 December), Pursglove had announced the government would publish a new disability action plan in the new year, which will “set out the practical action ministers across government will take over the next two years to improve disabled people’s lives”.

As part of this announcement, he gave interviews to the BBC, Channel 5 and ITV, but he provided no detail about what would be in the action plan.

There was also no mention in the press release issued by the Disability Unit of whether the action plan would replace the government’s National Disability Strategy.

The high court ruled earlier this year that the strategy was unlawful, after a botched consultation had made it “impossible” for disabled people to “shape” its content.

The government has been granted permission to appeal that ruling.

The DWP spokesperson said the disability action plan was “separate from the National Disability Strategy” and would “set out how we will go further in 2023 and 2024 to improve disabled people’s lives, whilst the National Disability Strategy, which set out our long-term vision, is subject to ongoing litigation”.

Only last week, Pursglove was ridiculed for claiming his government had a record of providing “global leadership on disability inclusion”, six years after it was found guilty of “grave” and “systematic” violations of the UN disability convention, and five years after it was told by the UN’s disability rights committee that its cuts to social security and other support for disabled people had caused “a human catastrophe”.

This article was published on The Disability News Service by John Pring and the full story can be accessed and read here https://www.disabilitynewsserv...

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