The Tories betray wilful ignorance in refusing to acknowledge that some adults need support all their lives – asking them to pay care costs is wrong
Much has been said about the Conservative manifesto pledges on social care and Theresa May’s subsequent U-turn, but one issue that has so far escaped scrutiny is the Tories’ strange assumption that social care is all about older people. This is despite the fact that around a third of those who need social care services are of working age [pdf].
Social care affects all adults who need support because of a disability or long-term health condition. This might include a learning disability, a physical disability or severe and enduring mental ill-health. The failure of the Conservative manifesto to acknowledge any of this gives the impression of a party that is wilfully ignorant of the nature of adult social care and its beneficiaries.
Related: The ‘dementia tax’ mess shows how little May thinks of disabled people | Frances Ryan
Related: Forget money – we need to rethink what social care should look like
Letters from Phyl Meyer of the access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland), Michelle Mitchell of the MS Society, Ted Hill of the British Polio Fellowship, Clare Pelham of the Epilepsy Society and others
The article by Frances Ryan (24 May) regarding the lack of support for disabled candidates seeking election raises an important issue that the next UK government must address. Missing from the article was reference to the situation in Scotland, where the Scottish government has funded the creation of the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland). The Scottish fund recently supported 39 disabled candidates in the local authority elections, of whom 15 were elected. Unfortunately the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 prevent the Scottish government from funding a project which covers the UK general elections as these are fully reserved to Westminster, so we are unable to assist disabled candidates who have come forward in this election. If we are ever to achieve fair representation for all sections of society, the general election this month must be the last one ever to systematically exclude disabled people from equal opportunity to serve in elected office. The only way this can be achieved is reinstatement of the UK fund (allowing the Scottish fund to cover UK elections in Scotland), and the introduction of job-sharing for elected office roles (which will also open up elected office to more people with childcare responsibilities, among others).
Project manager, Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland)
• Tomorrow the Disability Benefits Consortium will be delivering a resolute plea to party leaders, urging them to protect disability benefits from further cuts in the next parliament. More than 16,500 people have backed this call in an open letter being delivered to party leaders tomorrow. As a coalition of 80 charities and organisations, we are seeing every day how years of damaging welfare reform are having a devastating impact. Across the country, thousands of disabled people are currently struggling without the support they need.
Lying on the floor for hours awaiting help, unable to afford both incontinence pants and food … This is the reality of disability cuts for Stephen, Alex and Elli
When Theresa May was challenged by a disabled voter over cuts to her disability benefits and social care last month, it shone a light on the way Conservative policies post-2010 have disproportionately targeted disabled people. Recent years have seen the introduction of many cuts and changes – from the rollout of “fit to work” tests to the abolition of disability living allowance – as well as a lack of action on existing inequalities, such as inaccessible housing. It all amounts to an unprecedented assault on disabled people’s rights and living standards in Britain.
In a series of interviews over several months, the Guardian has followed three disabled readers – Stephen, Alex, and Elli – as they experience the reality of life since austerity.
To afford a wheelchair, Alex had to sell the TV, phone, plates, mugs, second-hand laptop and clothes
Related: In confronting Theresa May, Kathy has spoken up for all Britain’s disabled people | Frances Ryan
How can we improve the lives of learning disabled people when even the prime minister muddles them up with those with mental health problems?
My daughter has learning difficulties. She was born with them 24 years ago and they will always be part of her life. Since they are at the most profound end of the spectrum and complicated by epilepsy she is unable to walk, talk or see. She needs full-time care and state support. But most importantly she is an adorable human being and a lively individual.
Since her birth I have endured mild bouts of depression along with deriving much joy, like many parents who finds their lives suddenly disrupted by birth of a child with disabilities. The temporary slumps have not been too destabilising. Other people suffer far more severe mental health problems. Thankfully, society is starting to show more appreciation of their conditions with growing support from all political parties.
Related: Looking for work with a learning disability: ‘You feel like a failure’
Small community organisations and social enterprises could form an efficient, cost-effective support system for adults
An unexpected effect of cuts to council budgets, and the ensuing crisis in support services for adults and older people, is that the public is starting to understand for the first time what social care for adults actually is. The challenge now is for us to imagine what it could be.
In March, the government announced a green paper in response to the overwhelming evidence that the way we support older and disabled people is neither working nor affordable. Fewer people are getting support, care providers are leaving the sector and handing back contracts to councils, and hospitals are filling up with older people who have no medical reason to be there.
Related: Social care green paper is an opportunity too important to be missed | Peter Beresford
Related: How we can start a social care revolution in seven easy steps | Katie Johnston
Any alterations to the supported housing rules that force disabled people to either live with family or in an institution would be a huge step backwards
I have Down’s syndrome and I live in supported housing. Today a parliamentary select committee has put out a report on the government’s planned changes for supported housing that could force people such as me with a learning disability out of our homes.
Last year the government said it wanted to make changes to funding for supported housing that would limit payments to the local housing allowance rate and let local councils have control over the extra money needed to give people supported housing. This would mean people such as me could lose our right to have our housing paid for and that there could be a lot less supported housing available.
Related: Abandon damaging government changes to supported housing | Clive Betts
I make my own choices and I get to live the life I want, something everyone has the right to do
Andrew Dilnot says current adult social care system is ‘most pernicious means-test’ in the British welfare state
Andrew Dilnot, who carried out the government review into the funding for care and support in England, has condemned Britain’s social care system as “the most pernicious means-test in the whole of the British welfare state” and called for a new tax to fund adult social care for everyone who needs it.
The chair of the Dilnot commission on funding of care and support said a tax was needed to provide lifelong adult social care that was not means-tested.
Related: ‘We all like to feel special’: hairdressers style a revolution in care homes
The chief executive of Remploy says living with depression has made him a better person to run the organisation that gets £50m of contracts to help people back into work
Gareth Parry has spent almost three decades supporting people with disabilities and mental health issues find work, but a recent mental health crisis of his own has given him a personal insight into the remit of the organisation he leads.
Parry has only ever worked for Remploy, starting as a trainee administrator and becoming chief executive a year ago. Problems in his personal life two years ago triggered depression. At the time, he was overseeing a government contract for workplace mental health support. “I knew a lot [professionally] about mental ill health, but I didn’t recognise it,” he says. “Suddenly I was on the other side. It reinforced the importance of organisations like Remploy; work gave me routine, structure, focus, when everything else in my life was in chaos.”
We must recognise, harness and nurture people’s abilities rather than see only a disability
Unpaid care worth 1.7 times more than governments invest in mental health services, researchers say
Informal mental health carers are contributing $13.2bn annually by caring for people with mental illness – 1.7 times more than Australian governments invest in mental health services each year, a report from the University of Queensland has found.
The report, The Economic Value of Informal Mental Health Caring in Australia, was commissioned by community mental health service provider Mind Australia and will be launched at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday.
Related: Julia Gillard to take over from Jeff Kennett as chair of beyondblue
Related: Australia can avoid a new generation of asylums if doctors and politicians listen | Ian Hickie
Superficially the UK leads the world on disability rights, but colossal cuts are undermining the progress made over the last few decades
On Monday, disabled representatives from disability organisations across England, Scotland and Wales presented reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva. It is now eight years since the UK ratified the UNCRPD with cross-party support and this is the committee’s first full examination of the UK’s performance.
So how are we doing? The government is fond of claiming that the UK is a “world leader” on disability rights. Superficially, this claim remains fairly accurate. We have the most comprehensive and proactive equality law anywhere in the world; social care legislation and practice that embodies the principle of choice and control; a social security system that claims to recognise the extra costs of disability; and law and regulations to advance accessibility. It is important to remind ourselves of what disabled people have achieved over the past 30-40 years of disability rights activism, as we have charted our journey from objects of care and charity to becoming active, contributing citizens. But any assessment of progress cannot be confined solely to what we now have, or where we were in the past. And judging by the UK’s direction of travel, the government’s claim of world leadership quickly unravels: we are seeing big cuts to services and watering down of rights and opportunities of disabled people.
Law Commission study, laid before parliament, reveals growing strain on already overburdened care system
Tens of thousands of vulnerable people with dementia and learning disabilities are being detained unlawfully in hospitals and care homes across Britain, the Law Commission has said.
Replacing the “administrative and bureaucratic nightmare” system of deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) would speed up checks and allow care workers to concentrate on those most at risk, the legal study recommends.