Labour Policies On Disability
Labour is determined that the UK should always be a world leader in disability rights and we have legislated to provide protection against discrimination at work, while also offering new support for people into work. We will always seek to strengthen the rights of disabled people to access services, work and to be supported to make the choices they want to make in their own lives.
The Independent Living Strategy was published in March 2008 and was co-produced with disabled people. It is jointly owned by six government departments and details over 50 government commitments that seek to deliver choice and control for disabled people.
We will be trailblazing the Right to Control from 2010. The Right to Control is a legislative right for disabled people to give them greater choice and control over some of the funding they receive from the state.
Those who care for disabled people are supporting not just those individuals but are supporting our whole society by ensuring that individuals are supported to play their part in our communities. To support them in what are often very difficult circumstances we will significantly increase funding for short breaks for carers of adults. And we will introduce annual health checks for adults with learning disabilities, who are likely to have greater health needs than the general population.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) supports Labour’s welfare reform agenda which supports people into work. It is paid to people with care and/or mobility needs irrespective of whether they are working. Those who qualify for the higher rate mobility component can use the Motability scheme to lease or buy a car, with further support to provide specialist adaptations.
We are bringing forward part of next year’s increase to be able to raise Disability Living Allowance above inflation this year and from April 2011 we will extend the higher rate mobility component of DLA to over 20,000 severely visually impaired people, allowing them greater freedom to get out and about, either socially or to find work. At current rates this will mean an additional payment worth £30.45 a week to those who qualify (£1,583 per year).
We are determined to see everyone who can work in employment and to support people into work where they want to work. We will ensure that more disabled people and people with health conditions who want to work are supported to do so, and aim to achieve high employment rates in every part of the country.
Over the last decade the employment rate for working age disabled people has increased from 42 per cent to 47 per cent, with the gap between the rates for disabled people and the general working-age population decreasing from 32 per cent to 26 per cent. In total, there are now an additional 576,000 working-age disabled people in work at the end of 2009 compared to the end of 1999.
Labour introduced the voluntary New Deal for Disabled People programme in 2001 and this had helped 210,000 people into work up to August 2009.
DWP also offers a range of specialist disability employment provision, designed to help disabled people with higher support needs to find and stay in employment, whether this is unsupported or supported employment. These include around 14,000 people who are currently on the WORKSTEP supported employment programme.
Additionally there are a number of people receiving WORKSTEP support through Remploy. Remploy helped 7,500 disabled people into work in 2008/09 and estimate that they will help 10,000 disabled people into work in 2009/10, of which around three quarters are from WORKSTEP.
We are introducing a new specialist disability employment programme for disabled people with the highest support needs. The new Work Choice programme will start in October 2010 and will replace existing specialist disability employment programmes (Work Preparation, WORKSTEP and the Job Introduction Scheme).
We are determined to ensure that those with disabilities and employers have the support to make necessary adjustments to break down the barriers to work for disabled people. We will increase the budget for our Access to Work scheme, which provides precisely this support, to help even more people – particularly those who have been under-represented in the past, such as people with learning difficulties or mental health conditions, or those working for smaller businesses. Access to Work is a specialist disability programme that helps disabled people overcome work-related obstacles. It is flexible, easy to access and shows high levels of satisfaction from disabled people and their employers. It is recognised by the National Audit Office as highly cost-effective, by 2013/14 the budget will be £138 million – double the 2008 figure.
We will ensure that if disability benefits for older people are reformed as part of the proposed National Care Service, people receiving the affected benefits at the time of reform will continue to receive the same level of cash support, under a new and better care and support system. We have also ruled out any changes to working age Disability Living Allowance as we establish the National Care Service.
Between 1979 and 1997, the number of people on incapacity benefits trebled, and people were left without the support to help them ever return to work. The number of working age people on Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit is down 148,000 since its peak in 2003 and the economic downturn has not resulted in significant increases in the numbers on ESA and incapacity benefits – unlike in past recessions. We will continue to ensure that disabled people and those with long term health conditions are supported back to work. The Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in October 2008. This replaced the current range of incapacity benefits for new customers and DWP will begin to migrate customers on existing incapacity benefits to ESA from October 2010.
By 2015 our £370 million Railways for All scheme will improve the accessibility of our train stations. Of this, £35 million per year is targeted at improving access at the busiest stations to ensure an accessible route within each station which includes providing step-free access.
An extra £430 million is being invested including £370 million to improve short break services to help transform services disabled children and their families. We will expect all local authorities to help parents caring for disabled children by giving them breaks from their caring responsibilities. The Family Fund offers grants to the families of disabled children to help make life for young disabled people and their families easier and more enjoyable – eligibility for this has been extended to young disabled people up to age 18.
We strengthened the Disability Discrimination Act in 2005, fulfilling the Government’s commitment to a comprehensive and enforceable set of civil rights for disabled people, and in 2006 we introduced a duty on public authorities to promote equality for disabled people, known as the Disability Equality Duty. We are further strengthening disability discrimination legislation through the Equality Act.
We will impose a new duty on all public organisations to consider the needs of disabled people and to actively seek to promote equality and we will allow public organisations and businesses to take positive action to diversify their team including appointing a disabled candidate where equally qualified as a non-disabled candidate if these are under-represented.
We will maintain and enforce Labour’s tough new safeguarding laws, to make sure that people who present a risk of harm are barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.
Everyone who needs long-term care is different, and will require a different package of services which suits their needs and is personal to them. The right to self-determination will be at the heart of a reformed care and support system. Where people are able to make choices for themselves, and want to do so, the system must put them in charge, and support them to make these decisions. Where they cannot choose or would prefer others to make decisions for them, services must be designed to meet their needs in the best way possible, and be centred around them and the life they want to lead.
Over time, people who use social care services and their families will take the central role in shaping and commissioning their own services. Personal budgets for everyone eligible for publicly funded adult social care (except where they need emergency access to provision) will ensure that everyone can choose their own support services if they want to. We are piloting the use of NHS resources in personal health budgets for people with some long-term conditions, ensuring a joined-up service for people who need healthcare and social care at the same time. Personal budgets play an important role in ensuring NHS patients and users of social care have real control over their care and services are personalised to their needs. The role of the state and statutory agencies will be to support people’s choices and enable them to access services – not to control people’s access to services.
Many people with long-term needs are cared for by relatives, friends and neighbours – there are around six million carers in the UK. Labour recognises carers’ contribution and values them highly. That is why we published the Carers Strategy, providing extra support and services for carers. We are increasing Carer’s Allowance, raising its earnings limit and introducing the Carer’s Credit from April 2010 to protect carers’ state pensions. We have introduced the right to request flexible working for carers to make it easier for them to combine paid work with their caring responsibilities.
We have made families with disabled children a priority, with a total of £770 million in new funding for local authorities and primary care trusts to support disabled children and their families, to transform short break services, and to improve disabled children’s services and children’s palliative care, and we are introducing alongside this funding a new legal duty on local authorities to provide short breaks for families with disabled children.
From April 2010, there will be additional annual payments of £100 into the Child Trust Fund accounts of disabled children. Severely disabled children will receive £200 per year.
- Labour has legislated to protect people who may be unable to make decisions for themselves, through the Mental Capacity Act which provides safeguards to help people make their own decisions about their daily lives and to be supported to do so where they need that.
- Labour has given new rights to disabled people through the Disability Discrimination Act, and has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Labour has made families with disabled children a priority, with a total of £770 million in new funding for local authorities and primary care trusts to support disabled children and their families, to transform short break services, and to improve disabled children’s services and children’s palliative care.
- Over the last decade the employment rate for working age disabled people has increased from 42 per cent to 47 per cent, with the gap between the rates for disabled people and the general working age population decreasing from 32 per cent to 26 per cent.
- The Access to Work budget has been increased from £15 million in 1994/95 to £69 million in 2008/09 and £81 million in 2009/10. Access to Work is likely to help around 35,000 disabled people take up or stay in work in 2009/10.
- Introduced free nationwide off-peak travel on local buses for the over-60s and eligible disabled people in England.
- We established the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to act as a strong, independent champion to tackle discrimination and promote equality for all.