Coronavirus: information and updates

Disabled people are facing unthinkable dilemma between health and wages

  • New research reveals just 14 per cent of disabled workers feel safe about going to work [1]
  • Disability equality charity Scope warns disabled people face bearing brunt of economic crisis
  • Scope leads 30,000 disability campaigners in message to the Prime Minister to stop forgetting disabled people from UK’s recovery plan, as rumours that millions could be asked to shield again cause further anxiety
  • Call for the government and employers to embrace flexible working to create more job opportunities for disabled people in the future

Disability equality charity Scope has issued a direct call to the Prime Minister to “stop forgetting his promise to disabled people” – as new research reveals millions of disabled people are worried about risking their health by going back to work, but need to get paid.

New research, released today as part of the charity’s We Won’t Be Forgotten campaign, has found:

  • 51 per cent of disabled workers are concerned about going back to work, but need to get paid [2]
  • Just 14 per cent feel safe, and 41 per cent feel anxious, about going into their workplace [3]
  • A third of disabled workers (34 per cent) feel under pressure to go back to the workplace – with employers and the government cited as main sources of pressure [4]
  • 49 per cent of disabled workers are concerned about using public transport to commute to work [5]
  • 25 per cent of disabled workers are concerned about losing their job because their employer can’t make it safe for them to go to their workplace [6]
  • Nine in 10 (87 per cent) of disabled people are worried that people will not respect social distancing [7]

Scope is today delivering an open letter to Number 10 signed by 30,000 disability campaigners calling for a “new deal for disabled people to show they won’t be forgotten in the Government’s recovery plan, and beyond”.

The charity has also shared a powerful video featuring disabled people from across the UK calling for action, alongside a “timeline of injustice” showing how disabled people have been hit hardest throughout the pandemic.

Scope’s CEO, Mark Hodgkinson said:

“There are 14 million disabled people in the UK and they have been forgotten and sidelined by the Government throughout the pandemic.

We are now hearing reports that millions could soon be asked to shield again, creating even more anxiety and confusion about how people can protect themselves while being able to work. Nobody should be forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills and putting food on the table.

The government cannot let disabled people bear the brunt of this economic crisis. That means making sure we can work from home if we need to. It means being confident that our workplaces are safe for us to return. It means making sure disabled people aren’t first in line for redundancies, or at the back of the queue when applying for jobs.

In February, Boris Johnson wrote to his cabinet and said he wanted his government, through a National Disability Strategy, to transform the lives of disabled people. He must stop forgetting his promise to disabled people.

Just 6 months on, many disabled people have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Now more than ever, we need a clear plan from government to protect disabled people’s rights and show we won’t be forgotten in the UK’s economic recovery.”

Scope’s new Chair Designate Robin Millar said:

“Today, in my first action as Scope’s Chair Designate, I proudly lead the delivery of a letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 30,000 people, demanding he prioritise disabled people.

The pandemic has magnified the inequalities that disabled people face in our society. We need to work together to remove these barriers for good. Business, schools and communities all have a role in making sure disabled people have fairness and equality. If the pandemic has shown us anything positive, it’s that flexibility is possible in the workplace. Let’s build on this to create more job opportunities for disabled people in the future.

Together, we won’t let disabled people be forgotten.”

References

1-4. Figures from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 874 adults with a health problem or disability who are in employment. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9 to 14 September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

5-7. Figures from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,115 adults with a health problem or disability. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8 to 10 July 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Notes to editor

We’re Scope and we want equality for disabled people. We provide practical and emotional information and support when it’s needed most and we campaign relentlessly to create a fairer society. For more information visit our website.

Full text of timeline infographic:

March

19 March – Coronavirus Bill published, suspending the Care Act

23 March – Many disabled people left off Government shielding list

26 March – Disabled people report being unable to book supermarket deliveries

April

14 April – Deaths in care homes omitted from official data

May

6 May – Drastic shortages mean third of health care professionals and half of personal assistants not wearing PPE during home visits

June

13 June – Unlawful ‘do not resuscitate’ orders put on some disabled people

15 June – Masks made compulsory on public transport, but exemptions for disabled people not clearly communicated

19 June – Official figures show two thirds of people who have died from Covid-19 were disabled

22 June – Government says shielding will pause from August, sparking fear and uncertainty among disabled people

July

1 July – Sanctions reintroduced into welfare system

17 July - Government announces plan to relax work from home advice, ringing alarm bells for many disabled people

24 July – Masks made compulsory in shops, but lack of public awareness about exemptions result in disabled people facing abuse

August

1 August – Shielding pauses, despite just 5 per cent of disabled people feeling safe about changes

27 August – Disabled people overlooked as major drive for people to return to their workplaces announced

 

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