Liberal Democrats launch Manifesto for Disabled People

Manifesto for Disabled PeopleNick Clegg launches the party’s Manifesto for Disabled People today. In the foreword, he writes:

Liberal Democrats believe that no matter who you are, where you come from and what your circumstances, you should not be denied the opportunity to fulfil your potential.

It is essential to break down the unfair divisions in our society, yet disabled people in Britain today still face significant barriers to getting on and living happy, independent lives.

Providing opportunity for everyone is the test of a liberal society.

In Coalition Government, I am proud of the important progress Liberal Democrats have made in driving improvements.

From fighting to protect schools and teaching budgets, to investing £400m in carers’ breaks, or launching the No voice unheard, no right ignored programme to ensure people with disability, autism and mental health conditions get the best care possible.

But we can and must go further.

In Government again, we will ensure that disabled people get the support and help they need to find work, whether it is supporting those who want to work, or ensuring fairer assessment and support of those who can’t.

We will work to improve the benefits system for disabled people, ensuring assessments are truly fair, with quick access to financial help for those who cannot work.

We will move towards an integrated health service with more joined up care, more personal budgets so people have more control over the care they need, and delivering equality of care for mental health patients.

Only the Liberal Democrats will create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Labour will borrow too much, risking the economy. The Tories will cut too much, threatening public services and sacrificing the least well off.

We are determined to stick with the approach we set out in 2010
– a fair way of restoring the nation’s finance. The fruits of Britain’s recovery must be felt by all – providing disabled people with real opportunities to achieve their potential, and the support they need to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

The key measures are:

Simplifying benefits for disabled people bringing Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment Support Allowances (ESA) into one easily accessible fund

Ensure tenants who need an extra bedroom for genuine medical reasons are entitled to one in any assessment of their Housing Benefit needs

Encourage employers to shortlist any qualified disabled candidate and provide advice about workplace adaptation

Formally recognise British Sign Language as an official language of the United Kingdom

Tackle disability hate crime by ensuring proper monitoring of incidents by police forces and other public authorities

That hate crime measure is really important. I have been horrified to hear two of my friends who carry white canes because of severe visible impairment have had abuse shouted at them in the street by idiots who tell them they are putting it on or making it up.

The party also has some targeted help for carers:

Introduce an annual Carer’s Bonus of £250 for carers looking after someone for 35 hours or more each week.

Work to raise the amount you can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week.

Consult on introducing five days’ paid additional ‘care leave’ a year for carers who qualify for the Carer’s Allowance.

Give the NHS a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to inform carers of their rights in the NHS, like more flexible visiting hours, assert their role as expert partners in care and gain access to support.

Encourage employers to provide more flexible working.

You can read the whole thing here.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • I am not quite sure we should be using the phrase ‘disabled people’. Why couldn’t we say ‘enabled people’?

  • As a disabled person I’d like to ask why weren’t some of these policies implemented when you were in government. Many of your m.p’s voted through the spare room subsidy and the processes of p.i.p. It took ten months for my application to be processed! 10 months of worrying about money as I adapted to being disabled.

    The rhetoric of this government has made me feel scared to mention the fact that I am disabled and as a result unable to work. It has made hate crime measures even more necessary. I feel guilty and ashamed for claiming what I am entitled to. I don’t have a place amongst the strivers and skivers. I don’t have a place in alarm clock britain.

  • judy: for over 40 years there has been debate as to how you term those who have a disability. For Joseph I would say ,i fully understand your concerns and this policy announcement addresses many of the questions which the community has aired.
    Having worked for over 30 years in this area I know that thousands more people with disabilities are in employment than at any time in our history.Further education is offered to more and they have seized that opportunity where it was appropriate.Nobody should feel scared , if you have morons such as described tell the police, social worker or friend and get them sorted.It is every bit as evil as racism and homophobia
    Well done to Lib Dems for getting this issue being debated

  • Joseph. Yes you do. We all do whatever we are. We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. So much work that people do is useless anyway. Write a book about your experiences. The greatest people in the world who we remember today have been the composers, poets, thinkers and campaigners – not pen pushers like I have sometimes been! Some of the most useful work I have done has been unpaid.

  • I read Joseph’s comments as saying that because he is disabled he is physically not able to work but reading it again, if he is saying it is because of discrimination that would be, of course, as bad as racism. I was just trying to say that measuring people by the yardstick of conventional work is not always helpful; but if people want to work they should be given every opportunity to do so – and paid properly for it.

  • @ Jospeh
    “I don’t have a place amongst the strivers and skivers.”
    It is a divisive saying.
    Also “hard working families” seems to attack those who are single or not very ambitious (and don’t want to work all hours they can).

    @ Bob Sayer
    “I know that thousands more people with disabilities are in employment than at any time in our history”
    Please can you tell me how may disabled people were employed and not employed for the years 1950 to 1979?

    Maybe it was a Socialist idea that large companies after the Second World War had to employ a certain number of disabled people, but maybe we could adopt it.

    All this talk of giving people the opportunity is really about getting them to the start line of the race of life. It isn’t about increasing the number of opportunities to ensure that no one isn’t chosen to take part. If the government says people are not valued unless they are in paid work then they need to pursue economic policies to ensure that only about 500,000 who could work are not working not the 4.35 million who are not in work at the moment.

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