Election campaigners ‘living in parallel universe’ by not acknowledging a quarter of the UK population says Disability Rights UK

Mon,3 June 2024
News Equality & Rights Participation
Election campaigners ‘living in parallel universe’ by not acknowledging a quarter of the UK population says Disability Rights UK

The UK’s would-be leaders are living in a “parallel universe” if they cannot see or acknowledge the 16.1 million Disabled people who make up a quarter of the UK’s population.

With TV debates due to start this week, and almost two weeks into the election campaign, the often desperate needs and inequalities affecting 24% of the population have yet to be explicitly mentioned.

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Those standing for election appear to be living in a parallel universe if they cannot see and acknowledge a quarter of the population out loud.

“It is astonishing and appalling that the needs of a quarter of the population have yet to form a part of campaigning by any major party in the General Election.

“After decades of erosion of support across governments, almost every aspect of life as a disabled person is now subject to grotesque levels of inequality and hardship.

“Those who seek to lead our country need to commit to improving conditions for the 87% of households with at least one disabled member.

“Almost two-thirds of households living in poverty have a disabled person living in them. Around half of all households living in poverty have a disabled child living within them.

“As parties talk about wealth creation, they need to also acknowledge that they need to fix the deep levels of poverty within society. And while they vie for votes, they need to admit out loud that, in the main, if they dare to talk about poverty, they are talking about disabled people.

“They must talk about how they intend to change things for us so that we go from being the most neglected and least mentioned minority group, to one which is recognised as being a quarter of the population, one which is in desperate need of a level of support that helps us to thrive and contribute to society.

“We are nudging 45% of the older population and over 20% of people of working age, but the only mention of us is about the growing numbers of sick and Disabled people being out of work.

“Whoever wins power needs to commit to ending the culture which paints disabled people as scroungers lazing around on ample benefits. They need to acknowledge that benefits have been among the lowest in Europe for over forty years and have been gouged out so thin, you can see the light through them.

“We are repeatedly told that it is our fault and that we need to be “encouraged” to leave benefits and get back to work. Many Disabled people are in deep debt as support benefits don’t cover the most basic bills. It is inconceivable to anyone who doesn’t swallow the rhetoric and conjecture and actually does the maths that anyone with a choice would remain on them.

“Decades of wrong-headed and neglectful policy has led to deepening poverty, cut essential public services and worsened our mental and physical health.

“Widening poverty, high energy costs, routine use of food banks, spiralling rents, a huge lack of accessible housing, and the continuing impacts of COVID in relation to the 24% of the population who are disabled have yet to be mentioned by any party in the national election conversation.

“We urge all potential political leaders and parties to listen to our experiences and to begin to make our concerns part of the 2024 General Election.”

Read the Disabled People’s Manifesto for the General Election: