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Locked Down and Abandoned: Disabled People’s Experiences of Covid-19: new Inclusion London research report

12 February 2021

Inclusion London has published its second report based on research gathered about the first, second and third lockdowns. 

The report describes how Disabled people continue to experience hardship across all areas of life: increasing mental distress, social isolation and loneliness, food poverty, financial difficulties, workplace discrimination, problems accessing healthcare, and unequal access to medicine, vaccines, and social care.

Inclusion London says:

“Despite the messages about protecting and supporting those in greatest need, the Government’s approach has been to introduce legislation, guidance and policies which have actively undermined our ability to protect ourselves and our rights to critical support.

The erosion of Disabled people’s rights and quality of life must end and there must be a corresponding commitment to fully include Disabled people in the ‘‘levelling up’’ and ‘‘building back better’’ agenda.

It is time for the government to understand the needs of Disabled people and work with Disabled people and our organisations to ensure lessons are learnt and future policies promote our rights and create a society which is free from disabling barriers, where diversity and human rights are valued and where Deaf and Disabled people have dignity, inclusion and equality.”

The new report makes the following 12 recommendations:

  • Urgently restore Disabled people's rights currently open to easements under the Coronavirus Act.
  • Ensure the active participation and representation of DDPOs across all Covid-19 planning and Covid-19 recovery work at a local, regional and national level.
  • Central and local governments must develop and implement a digital exclusion plan to close the digital divide, including the provision of free access to broadband, technology and training for all Disabled people.
  • Urgent investment is needed in preventative, community and acute mental health services to address the increased level of mental distress. These services need to be co-produced with Disabled people, be culturally competent, be in line with the Social Model of Mental Distress and the UNCRPD and be appropriate to people's specific needs.
  • Hold an independent inquiry to investigate the disproportionately high numbers of Disabled people's deaths from Covid-19, including the impact on Disabled people from communities that experience multiple and intersectional discrimination.
  • Allocate urgent funding to local authorities to ensure Disabled people get social care support that provides dignity, choice and control, and ensure Disabled people and DDPOs are fully involved in developing proposals for the reform of social care. Guarantee that future reforms will recognise, support and resource Disabled people's right to live independently in line with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Urgently take action to ensure there is a parity of pay, recognition and importance between social care and NHS workers.
  • Take urgent action to ensure social security provides an adequate level of income protection for people, including maintaining the £20 Universal Credit increase, extending this increase to other disability and legacy benefits and increasing rates of Statutory Sick Pay to match living wage equivalents.
  • Support Disabled people in getting and keeping good jobs, with good pay and working conditions. This must include extending and improving Access to Work support, providing high quality employment support, strengthening protections for Disabled workers against discrimination and equipping employers with the knowledge that allows them to support and develop Disabled workers in an inclusive work environment.
  • The priority categories for vaccination rollout must reflect those disproportionately at risk. Information about vaccinations must be produced in accessible formats and actively shared with Disabled people and the infrastructure must be in place to ensure vaccinations can be delivered to people in their homes.
  • Improve Disabled people's access to healthcare services by resuming face-to-face appointments as soon as it is safe to do so and ensure healthcare treatment considers the impact on a person's quality of life, not just their impairment or health condition.
  • Ensure all health service providers take active steps to make their services and communications accessible, including the provision of BSL interpreters and information in Easy Read.

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said:

“This important report by Inclusion London documents the devastating impact that coronavirus has had on all aspects of disabled people’s lives.

DR UK fully backs The report’s recommendations. We would urge Government to carefully consider the report,  when developing its Disability Strategy.”

Locked Down and Abandoned: Disabled People’s Experiences of Covid-19 is available from inclusionlondon.org.uk.

Inclusion London’s first report Covid-19 Shielders: Left Adrift is also available from inclusionlondon.org.uk.