I thought I’d write a short series looking at different political party’s manifestos in the run up to the General Election, specifically with regards to ideas that would interest and affect disabled people. Obviously disabled people are like all other people and are impacted upon by everything that impacts everyone else, but we do have some experiences and concerns that may not always be appreciated fully by people who are not disabled or not in close contact with somebody that is. After the horrendous way that the ConDem government have treated disabled people through austerity – disabled people are nine times more likely than the average person to have been affected by budget cuts – fear is the prevailing feeling I have towards the possible outcome of the election. So, in order to help educate myself and other people about what each party is promising for disabled people, I will run these posts. I’m under no illusions however that I’m going to cover anywhere near everything that would be important to disabled people when considering who to vote for. If I wrote down everything vaguely relevant I would get a severe migraine from all the screen time, and most people probably wouldn’t read this as it would be too long.
Anyways, I will start with the Green Party:
– The Green Party have committed to ending austerity. That means no more cuts to areas that affect disabled people such as social welfare payments, social care, or the NHS.
– Abolition of the bedroom tax – the bedroom tax has shown to disproportionately affect disabled people.
– The long-term goal of scrapping most social welfare benefits (except for disability benefits and Housing Benefit), to replace them with a non-means tested Basic Income for everybody. The idea is that this will be sufficient to cover basic needs, but disabled people will have access to disability benefits for top-ups to cover their extra costs. It is thought that a Basic Income removes stigma from claiming welfare benefits and recognises everybody’s contribution to society, not just those who are in paid employment, but also carer’s, volunteers, full-time parents and those unable to work due to disability.
– Ending the system whereby an external contractor assesses whether people are fit for work and return to the system of relying on the judgement of GPs or other health professionals – this would mean, for example, abolishing assessments run by Capita for ESA and PIP.
– Retention of the Independent Living Fund.
– Make it a licensing condition for taxis that drivers have some Disability Awareness Training.
– Providing free social care for adults with a care need.
– Ending the privatisation of the NHS.
– Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and replacing it with an NHS Reinstatement Bill, which would include: restoring the obligation upon the government to provide a comprehensive health service, abolishing competition and the purchaser–provider split, ending market-based commissioning and procurement, re-establishing public bodies, a role for not-for-profit organisations and public accountability, restricting the role of commercial companies, and repealing the right of the Secretary of State to close hospitals or departments without effective public participation.
-An immediate increase in the NHS budget to £12 billion a year, which would include a great investment in mental health services, and money to provide free chiropody, free dentistry and free prescriptions.
– Ensuring that nobody waits more than 28 days for access to a talking therapy.
– Ending the use of police cells as places of safety for children by 2016.
– Ensure that everyone who requires a mental health bed should be able to access one in their local NHS Trust area, unless they need specialist care and treatment.
– Promises to invest in dementia services and addiction services.
– End workfare programmes.
– Offer personalised job seeking help for those with mental health problems.
– Abolishing zero hours contracts – this could negatively affect some disabled people who employ personal assistants on zero hours contracts with their direct payments from social services.
If you would like to read more, the full manifesto can be found here.