Book Review: The End of Aspiration? by Duncan Exley

Subtitled Social mobility and our children’s fading prospects, Duncan Exley’s book explores the facts and myths around aspiration. Referencing many studies, linked with real-life stories of people who have moved from rag-to-riches, Exley asks how far the UK is from being an ‘opportunity’ society and whether social mobility should be a priority of policy-makers. Duncan […]

Subtitled Social mobility and our children’s fading prospects, Duncan Exley’s book explores the facts and myths around aspiration. Referencing many studies, linked with real-life stories of people who have moved from rag-to-riches, Exley asks how far the UK is from being an ‘opportunity’ society and whether social mobility should be a priority of policy-makers.

Duncan Exley is the former Director of the Equality Trust. In his book, he delves into issues of equality and poverty, probing the real factors behind people not being able to attain the life they would like to live.

Recently, I toured a secondary school in North Devon with the headteacher. I asked her what the biggest issue was for the young people there. She told me, without hesitation, lack of aspiration. She explained that many of her pupils came from families which could not afford to travel outside of the town, not to mention the county. Pupils stayed in school as long as they were required to and then left for local jobs. She had started taking groups of pupils to Oxford open days and was proud that several now were at Oxford and other universities. But she said one of the hurdles she faced was lack of funding for school trips so that young people could experience the bigger world outside of their own community.

This is one of the many themes Exley tackles – how to give young people from more deprived circumstances the opportunities to explore, experience and participate in the bigger world.

Creating opportunities, however, is not enough. Exley looks at the biology of poverty and cites studies which link the nutrition of grandparents to the birth weight and health of babies. Low birth weight has been linked to poorer attainment. A healthy population is one which can thrive, and child poverty must be tackled. Exley notes the effect of health on career progression:

The health-damaging effects of being in a job with low pay and low esteem don’t just affect workers’ ability to thrive and be promoted in a workplace; they can also damage the career prospects of their children, even if those children grow up to be in well-paid and well-respected jobs.

You will have to read the book to find out why – the interlink between health, social mobility, career opportunities and life chances is fascinating. I’ll include one more sentence:

This corrosion of self-esteem, combined with financial insecturty, is so powerful that low-paid, low-status work has been found to be worse for mental health than being unemployed.

Exley talks about the hierarchy of the class system, of people wanting to move up, though some move down. A point he makes which should be more widely accepted is that rather than people from working classes having to adopt middle or upper-class accents and mannerisms, they should be accepted for who they are. Rich cultural diversity should be celebrated, not hegemonised into a bland whole.

I personally think society should move from classes being a pyramid structure of layers toward a circle holding hands: the doctor, welder, teacher, cleaner, lawyer, plumber and politician all in the same circle, around a common centre of community.

Getting back to the book, Exley tackles the dreaded tuition-fee and access to higher education issue in a brilliant chapter. He says

Tuition fee debts can reduce the incomes of graduates in later life, but they do not prevent anyone from accessing higher education. And until all students are allowed to compete for entry to higher education on fair terms, cutting tuition fees will be a subsidy that disproportionately goes to the privileged, for a service to which they have preferential access.

Exley advocates that the first priority should be making sure loans and grants to cover living costs for those from a poorer background are high enough to cover the real cost of living.

It’s a great book, with more information and insight than I can possibly review here. I’ll leave you with one more quote:

There is good reason to believe reducing inequality (and reducing poverty) would improve the UK’s rates of social mobility.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

What would we do without the NHS?

Our family has used the NHS more this year than ever before – all five of us have seen consultants for a range of ailments. Yesterday my husband saw the Haematology team to be told his cancer was in remission. We left the hospital grateful for the good prognosis, and thankful that we lived in […]

Our family has used the NHS more this year than ever before – all five of us have seen consultants for a range of ailments.

Yesterday my husband saw the Haematology team to be told his cancer was in remission. We left the hospital grateful for the good prognosis, and thankful that we lived in a country with high-quality health care. Over the course of his treatment, from hospital stays to bone marrow biopsies, from chemotherapy to scans, we have been impressed with the professionals overseeing his care. We have not been made bankrupt through high medical bills and he had time off work for his recovery. It was horrendous and worrying, but the NHS was there for us.

However, lack of government funding means that not everyone is getting the same quality of care we have experienced. Recent stories in the papers highlight the shortfall now being experienced by many hospital trusts. There was a combined overspend of around £850 million by ten NHS hospital trusts in England in 2018. Funding per patient has been cut year by year since 2010.

The data is harrowing. Whilst my husband had a good experience with his cancer treatment, the statistics show many others do not.

Four of the cancer waiting-time standards were failed: two-week GP referral to first outpatient appointment; 14-day referral to first outpatient – breast symptoms; 62-day (urgent GP referral) waiting time target for first treatment; and 62-day screening from service referral.

These waiting times didn’t apply in the same way to us as my husband was hospitalised with a severe infection and in trying to figure out the cause of the infection, cancer was found. But for those being referred by GPs for outpatient appointments, the delay of treatment and the extended worry whilst waiting for an appointment adds even more stress to the uncertainty one experiences before receiving a diagnosis.

Staff shortfalls are affecting quality – the most recent figures show 100,000 staff vacancies across the medical professions, with 11% of nursing jobs vacant. Lib Dems are calling for reinstatement of nursing bursaries – the need to train sufficient staff is now more urgent than ever. Current staff are doing as much as they can do, but they are only human and there will be limits to what the NHS can offer if there are not enough staff to provide services.

The NHS is one of the bedrocks of British society – it needs proper funding and should not be allowed to fail. Providing good health care to all citizens is one way we tackle inequality – and all of us, at one time or another, will rely on the NHS.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 #EmpowerHalfHour

The Where’s Your Head At? campaign launched a Workplace Manifesto on Monday. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, this campaign is raising awareness of how employers and businesses can better support their employees’ mental health and well-being. It is a straightforward manifesto which the campaign is calling all employers to sign. The principals, […]

The Where’s Your Head At? campaign launched a Workplace Manifesto on Monday. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, this campaign is raising awareness of how employers and businesses can better support their employees’ mental health and well-being. It is a straightforward manifesto which the campaign is calling all employers to sign. The principals, in brief, are:

1. Everyone has mental health

2. We need to build a diverse and inclusive workplace to lead to a
happier and healthier working environment

3. We need to treat mental and physical health equally in the workplace

4. Employers need to turn mental health awareness into positive action

Point number three is the renewed call for equality of mental and physical first aid under health and safety legislation – an initiative I led at Lib Dem party conference in Liverpool in 2015 and which was first presented to parliament as an Early Day Motion by Norman Lamb MP. It has been debated in Parliament, and pressure is on to change this legislation.

Point number four calls for six specific actions, that workplaces

i. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
ii. Develop mental health awareness among employees
iii. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
iv. Provide your employees with good working conditions
v. Promote effective people management
vi. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

Getting mental health support established in all workplaces would be a cultural shift with massive ramifications across society. Mental ill-health would be picked up much earlier, interventions could be put in place, long-term difficulties could be avoided, time off work reduced and productivity increased. It is a win-win for employer and employee.

Mental Health First Aid is encouraging all workplaces to have an #EmpowerHalfHour to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. There are five themes, with various activities within each. Have a look and see if you can fit one in at your workplace this week.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

ICYMI: Lord Roberts demands more for those made homeless

It was a busy week last week, with local elections and all, but in the midst of the flurry of leaflet delivery and canvassing, Lord Roberts was busy in Parliament questioning the Government on homelessness. This has been a big issue in North Devon, as it is across the country, with austerity having gone too […]

It was a busy week last week, with local elections and all, but in the midst of the flurry of leaflet delivery and canvassing, Lord Roberts was busy in Parliament questioning the Government on homelessness.

This has been a big issue in North Devon, as it is across the country, with austerity having gone too far and people not able to afford a roof over their heads.

Lord Robert posited:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decrease in local authority spending since 2009 on homelessness and the number of deaths of homeless people.

You can read the entire debate here and watch the video here.

Lord Robert’s office kindly sent over a piece on Rough Sleeping written by his researcher Shany Mizrai. We missed out on publishing it last week, but I think it deserves a read:

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has described the extent of homelessness across England as a ‘national crisis’. Appallingly, at any one time, there are as many as 9,100 people sleeping rough on the streets. In 2017 alone, 597 people died while homeless – a third of them, of treatable illnesses. Unfortunately, facts now suggest that homelessness in England has risen 165% higher than it was in 2010.

Importantly, the National Audit Office highlights that there is a high prevalence of mental illness, alcohol and drug dependency among rough sleepers: of the 70% of rough sleepers who had a support-needs assessment recorded, 47% had mental health support needs, 44% had alcohol support needs and 35% had drug support needs. The question is: what is the government doing to help rough sleepers deal with these dependencies?

Any measure the government implements in the future cannot be successful unless it is matched by a renewed focus across government on tackling the twin issues of both the supply and affordability of decent housing, which currently underlie the causes of homelessness.

The UK is not the only country dealing with these issues – Feantsa, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, has released its second report on housing exclusion in Europe, highlighting that homelessness and housing problems reach crisis point in all EU countries (except Finland). The UK now ranks 20th out of 28 countries, with “a broken housing market out of reach for poor and middle-class people” For poor young people across Europe, the situation is becoming increasingly prevalent, with 65% in Germany, 78% in Denmark and 58% in the UK spending more than 40% of their disposable income on housing.

In Finland, long term programmes for reducing homelessness over the past 20 years have proven their value, by focusing on the provision of permanent, affordable housing, and providing specialised support for the most vulnerable people such as the Housing First scheme, which gives homeless people stable accommodation to end homelessness rather than just managing it. While other member states have committed to this path, Feantsa says clear European incentives are needed to give greater momentum to these proven solutions to homelessness and housing issues.

In 2018, the government announced a £100 million plan to “end rough sleeping by 2027”. However, is this measure too little too late? Councils indeed state that this will not make up for the loss of funding that they used to receive until 2010, the point at which the number of rough sleepers started to escalate. Although it is hoped that the expected number of 6,000 people will have been helped by this scheme by 2020, it is important to highlight that without fundamental action to tackle the root causes of homelessness (for example cuts to support services and a lack of social homes, which keep people in a poverty trap), any measure can only achieve so much. With the number of rough sleepers increasing on the rise, this is now more important than ever before.

Homelessness is one of the many issues on which we must keep pressuring the Government. Many thanks to Lord Roberts and his team for championing those made homeless, some of the most vulnerable in our society.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Social Mobility stagnates, with those from poorer backgrounds having life-long disadvantage

The report out yesterday from the Social Mobility Commission deserves a closer look. It says that inequality is entrenched from birth. Lib Dems have argued for years about equality of opportunity – that some are born into families which provide many more opportunities and better life outcomes, a great many others are born into families […]

The report out yesterday from the Social Mobility Commission deserves a closer look. It says that inequality is entrenched from birth.

Lib Dems have argued for years about equality of opportunity – that some are born into families which provide many more opportunities and better life outcomes, a great many others are born into families stuck in a cycle of poverty, low pay and diminished life chances.

When I read Sir Anthony Atkinson’s book several years ago, Inequality, these points were made and the revered economist gave ideas as to how he thought they could be tackled.

But year in, year out, the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. The State of the Nation Report 2019 says that “urgent action needs to be taken to help close the privilege gap.”

Being born privileged means you are likely to remain priviledged, whilst being born disavantaged means you may have to overcome barriers to improve you and your children’s social mobility.

Their report says social mobility has stagnated over the last four years and something needs to be done about it. As this is a Government commission, I hope the Government is listening and does take immediate action. Austerity has gone on long enough and the effect is not only immediate but long-term.

Closure of childrens’ centres, cuts in school funding, and overstretched and underfunded Further Education institutions are all listed as factors. The report highlights the difficulty of young people from poorer backgrounds accessing degree apprenticeships and the increased likelihood that they begin working life on low wages. The report calls on Government to lead by example and pay the voluntary living wage to all its staff and contractors.

The report is worth a full read, I can only extract points that resonated with me here. Two key findings stood out to me. Firstly, that only 21% of people living with disability from working class backgrounds enter the highest-paid occupations. The ‘Double Disadvantage’ of class and disability limits life prospects. Secondly, this double-disadvantage also applies to women: “even within professional jobs, women from working class backgrounds are paid 35 per cent less than men from more affluent backgrounds.”

These double-disadvantages worry me – if we are working towards a more equal society, that work needs to be a multi-layered approach of tackling all kinds of inequality in a joined-up way. Just tackling income inequality and ignoring other factors would only solve part of the problem. Having a broader approach which combines factors such as disability, ethnicity and gender with economic social mobility improvements is needed.

Some suggestions from the report include:

  • Extending the eligibility of the 30-hours free child care offer by lowering the lower income limit of eligibility
  • Introducing a Student Premium for young people aged 16-19 that models the Pupil Premium in schools
  • Implementing the Opportunity Areas scheme from the Department for Education, which would provide investment in skills, jobs and infrastructure in areas of low social mobility and low pay
  • The Government should equalise adult education funding across FE, degree apprenticeships and universities.

I’m proud Lib Dems have a great track-record in leading here, having introduced the Pupil Premium, fought the gender-pay gap, increased the availability of apprenticeships and championed equality of opportunity amongst many other policies. There is just so much more to do. The fight for all types of equality goes on.

 

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Great news that the Mental Capacity Bill is set to pass final stages

I have been watching the progress of the Mental Capacity Bill closely. One of the reasons I, and many activists I’m sure, became involved in politics was because of our concern over mental health, the marginalised, and mental capacity issues. Indeed, my other half researches in this area, so I have an in-house expert on […]

I have been watching the progress of the Mental Capacity Bill closely. One of the reasons I, and many activists I’m sure, became involved in politics was because of our concern over mental health, the marginalised, and mental capacity issues. Indeed, my other half researches in this area, so I have an in-house expert on mental capacity and I’m well aware the law needs improving.

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill as introduced in July 2017 was radically improved by the Liberal Democrats and is set to pass its final stages in Parliament before becoming law.

This is a very important piece of legislation which could apply to any of us. For example, if people are in care homes and are having to be locked in, protections are needed to make sure this deprivation of liberty is necessary for their safety and in accordance with their human rights.

This new piece of legislation aims to improve these protections for anyone who lacks capacity and may be deprived of liberty. It took the Liberal Democrats to lead a cross-party effort to force the Conservative Government to remove their exclusionary definition of the deprivation of liberty.

Our changes also included a commitment to review the Code of Practice.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

When this Bill arrived in Parliament from the Conservative Government last summer it was seriously flawed. Instead of improving the system, the original version of the Bill would have created more problems than already existed.

The Liberal Democrats, through working cross-party, helped secure numerous concessions from the Government and vastly improved what would have been shoddy legislation to secure better protections for all those in care.

I hope the Conservatives use this as a learning opportunity to not only recognise how much needed to be fixed, but ensure arrangements for enabling the care of people who lack the capacity to consent are properly resourced.

Today marks a victory for all those who worked to stand up for the rights of the most vulnerable.

My work with the Fragile X Society gives me further insight into vulnerable adults who live with this condition and protecting their human rights. There are so many examples of vulnerability in our society. Looking after the person and enabling them whilst protecting liberties and keeping people safe from harm is an important balance to get right. I’m glad we’re leading on this as Lib Dems.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Hungry children are suffering, here in the UK

I’ve been doing a bit of work in my constituency about the effects of Universal Credit on local people, the rising use of Food Banks, and the inadequate funding given to rural schools in North Devon. With that perspective, I was dismayed but not surprised to read a recent article highlighting the social exclusion experienced […]

I’ve been doing a bit of work in my constituency about the effects of Universal Credit on local people, the rising use of Food Banks, and the inadequate funding given to rural schools in North Devon.

With that perspective, I was dismayed but not surprised to read a recent article highlighting the social exclusion experienced by children living in poverty.

This is personal for me – I grew up in a military household, having enough to live on but not a lot, and when my father left the forces, we were poor for a couple of years until he retrained and got another job. For those years, I felt excluded. I wore hand-me-downs and home-made clothes. I didn’t fit in as we had moved into a rural community from outside the country. My accent was funny, my safety net of having friends from military families on base was gone, and I was bullied. Things settled down, but I will never forget that first year of leaving the ‘family’ of military life and entering civilian life as an 11-year-old child. But I was never hungry.

The new study by University College London, Living Hand to Mouth, published yesterday, looks at the impact hunger has on children’s lives. As readers will know, free school meals have been cut back by the Conservative Government. It is Lib Dem policy, however, to reinstate free school meals for all those on Universal Credit and, further, that all primary school children regardless of their income level should have a free school meal. Nutrition is ever so important for learning. A healthy child is one who can flourish and absorb knowledge. A hungry one can not.

Some findings from the UCL study:

  • Children with parents who work in low-paid jobs are going hungry
  • Just over half of the parents in the study ate too little food, went hungry, skipped meals and/ or used food banks
  • Some schools identify children on free school meals by restricting the food they can choose, causing embarrassment to those children.
  • Many parents said they would like to be able to afford more fresh fruit and veg.

The Child Poverty Action Group has a good visual on the impacts of poverty on children here. Children feel unhappy, anxious, worthless and embarrassed. They are worried about their parents, they have fewer opportunities, can be socially insecure, they are bullied and many can’t go on school trips. Through no fault of their own, their educational attainments are lower than childen who do not live in poverty.

What kind of society are we trying to build? Having any children living in poverty in a first-world country like the UK is shameful.

Note: funding for the UCL study was provided by the European Research Council….

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

The State of Children’s Rights

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England just published their 2018 report into the State of Children’s Rights. Their report outlines “systemic failures to protect children in England”. They write: National and local government is failing to protect children in England whilst policymakers focus on Brexit, leaving children traumatised, powerless and vulnerable to abuse in many […]

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England just published their 2018 report into the State of Children’s Rights. Their report outlines “systemic failures to protect children in England”. They write:

National and local government is failing to protect children in England whilst policymakers focus on Brexit, leaving children traumatised, powerless and vulnerable to abuse in many areas of their lives.

CRAE have used new data, gathered through Freedom of Information requests, in writing this report. It has been thirty years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was adopted by the United Nations, yet the UNCRC has still not been enshrined in British law. I wrote about that four years ago here.

Areas of concern, amongst many, are child homelessness; how children are treated by the police; rising school exclusions; and the increased number of children living in poverty. It is an extensive report, so I can only give a brief overview of each section. Needless to say, I welcome these proposals.

The paper calls for children’s rights impact assessments to be part of any changes to the law in relation to Brexit, including statutory instruments. It also proposes a cabinet minister with responsibility for children’s rights be appointed and that there should be a

statutory obligation on public authorities to conduct child rights impact assessments in all decision-making affecting children, including in budgetary decision-making.

The fullsome section on Poverty and Homelessness has many good suggestions to take children out of poverty, including excluding children’s benefits from the benefit cap and getting rid of the two-child limit on child tax credit and UC. It calls for an abolition of the practice of housing children in B&Bs, hotels or caravan parks.

FOIs carried out by CRAE reveal that 1,173 looked after children were housed in independent accommodation for longer than 6 months.

There were serious issues raised in the Safeguarding section around the rising number of children in care and provision for them; the staggering rise of children suffering abuse and neglect; and the rising number of sexual offences against children. The report calls for children involved in county lines to be treated as victims of trafficking and modern slavery, not criminals.

The government should urgently address the funding gap in children’s services and provide additional funding to local authorities struggling to provide early intervention services, and ensure sufficient funding to implement the new reforms introduced under the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The section on Immigration, Asylum and Trafficking highlights the ongoing practice of children being held in detention centres, even though the government promised to abolish this, and calls for all decision-making in children’s asylum cases to have the child’s protection and wellbeing at the heart of the decision. Of the estimated 144,000 undocumented migrant children living in England and Wales, many who came to the UK as children or were born here, the report calls for the introduction of a shorter route to permanent status with lower application fees. Further, the National Referral Mechanism for those children trafficked (the government estimates there may be more than 4,000 trafficked children) needs to provide more support for children

and ensure that decisions on whether a child has been trafficked are made by trained multi-agency child protection services, and ensure rights-based training for all frontline professionals.

In the chapter on Education, the report calls for a reversal of school cuts; more funding for SEND; and the introduction of a statutory right to appeal against exclusion decisions. The information on the use of physical restraint was harrowing: from their survey, 88% of parents said their disabled child had experienced physical restraint.

The government should abolish all methods of restraint against children for disciplinary purposes in all institutional settings, including “special schools”, and ensure it is used against children exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others and only as a last resort. The use of isolation rooms should be abolished.

In regards to Health, the report shows how funding is desperately needed for CAMHS and community mental health services. There are huge increases in the number of children and young people being referred to CAMHS, but not enough resources to treat them, with one study showing 55,800 child referrals for specialist services rejected in the past year.

The government should develop a crossdepartmental child health and wellbeing strategy which is coordinated, implemented and evaluated across the four nations. Particular attention must be given to addressing health inequalities among children.

In the final section, Policing and Criminal Justice, the paper highlights the increasing use of spit-hoods and tasers against children and calls for this practice to end. CRAE questions the use of Young Offender Institutions, and instead call for the use of care-based homes in situations where children should be detained. In regards to restraint, CRAE says

Restraint against children should only be used when the child poses an imminent threat of injury to themselves or others and it should never be used to deliberately inflict pain. The government should abolish all methods of physical restraint for disciplinary and immigration purposes. The government should abolish solitary confinement or any conditions that amount to solitary confinement.

It has been a long blog – but there is so much that still needs to be done in protecting, nuturing and enabling our children and young people to live full and happy lives. The fight goes on.

 

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Lib Dem bill to bring in mental health checks for new mums

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. And today, in advance of IWD 2019 our Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse will introduce a Bill to improve mental health care for new mothers. I welcome this legislation. As a mother of three, I am well aware of what is currently offered to new mothers. It is not enough. This campaign […]

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. And today, in advance of IWD 2019 our Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse will introduce a Bill to improve mental health care for new mothers.

I welcome this legislation. As a mother of three, I am well aware of what is currently offered to new mothers. It is not enough. This campaign will tackle one aspect which could be improved: introducing the requirement that the current routine NHS post-natal check-ups given six weeks after having your baby must include mental health checks and support.

It is called the Postnatal Check-ups (Mental Health) Bill, and the first reading is in Parliament today.

Wera said:

It is extremely worrying that nearly half of new mothers who have experienced mental health or emotional issues have not had their problem identified by a health professional or received any help or treatment.

Postnatal mental health issues are not a new phenomenon and are not uncommon. It’s time to remove the stigma, encourage new mothers to discuss their emotional well-being, and provide them with the mental health support they need.

The full text of the proposed bill is

A Bill to require routine six week National Health Service check-ups for new mothers to include mental health assessments and advice; and for connected purposes.

Identifying mental health concerns early is the best way to prevent further, more serious, mental ill health. Parenthood is not easy, and the early days with a new baby can be tiring and stressful. Putting additional checks and supports in place can help identify issues before they become embedded and more serious.

Well done Wera and the team for launching this bill. We will watch its progress through Parliament, hoping you have the same success with this one that you did with the Upskirting Bill.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Living costs more when you have a disability

Scope, the disability equality charity in England and Wales, has released a new report showing how life is more expensive for those living with disability. Their study shows that those with disability spend more on heating, insurance, equipment and other essential goods and services. Scope says These extra costs mean disabled people have less money […]

Scope, the disability equality charity in England and Wales, has released a new report showing how life is more expensive for those living with disability. Their study shows that those with disability spend more on heating, insurance, equipment and other essential goods and services. Scope says

These extra costs mean disabled people have less money in their pocket than non-disabled people, or simply go without. Therefore, disabled people are likely to have a lower standard of living, even when they earn the same.

There are two parts to the report: The Disability Price Tag 2019 Policy Report discusses the key findings and recommendations; The Disability Price Tag 2019 Technical Report drills into the data, showing the detail of the extra costs those with disability incur in daily life. Both reports can be downloaded here.

One of the key findings is that

One in five disabled adults faces extra costs of over £1,000 a month even after they have received welfare payments designed to meet those costs.

The policy report goes on to recommend changes to Universal Credit; Personal Independence Payment assessments; eligibility for Warm Home Discounts; and setting up an Early Intervention and Family Resilience Fund.

The world is not an equal place, but this report has valuable suggestions on how to make it just a little more fair for those living with disability.

 

 

 

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.