A special disability election event has taken place earlier this week in London, including candidates from the three biggest parties.
The event, named Disability Hustings, took place with disabled people, carers and charity representatives given the chance to put questions to representatives from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The panel was made up of:
- Penny Mordaunt – Conservative and current Minister for Disabled People
- Kate Green – Labour Shadow Minister for Disabled People
- Baroness Sal Brinton – Liberal Democrat President and wheelchair user
Questions from the audience were around three main themes – social care, welfare support and employment for disabled people.
Penny Mordaunt started by emphasising that enabling every UK citizen to reach their full potential Is the only way to ensure the UK itself is able to achieve its’ full potential. She called for investment in the social care system in order to address the on-going crisis.
She spoke of the Government’s work around designing a one-stop-shop with information for employers employing disabled people, and how the current NHS model should be used to help improve the welfare and social care systems. She also said that the Conservatives are committed to scrapping reassessments for long-term, severe conditions, reforming the work capability assessment and bring welfare assessments together to avoid multiple assessments.
Kate Green emphasised in her opening statement that the UK needs to adopt a rights-based approach to disability, and spoke of the Labour Manifesto commitment to bring the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People into UK law. She said urgent action is needed on social care to address the crisis.
Also among the points she raised was the importance of a shared system of social security. She said that the financial security may be needed by anybody at any time. Kate Green also said that the Labour party would raise Carers Allowance to be in line with Job Seekers Allowance, scrap reassessments for long-term, severe conditions and reverse cuts to Employment and Support Allowance and the introduction of the so-called Bedroom Tax, and reform Personal Independence Payments.
Baroness Brinton started by asserting that the Liberal Democrat party did not believe that welfare support should be linked to employment. She said that more people should be receiving support from Access to Work, starting from the point of interview. The Disability Confident and two tick scheme to encourage employers to employ disabled people was also an area raised by Baroness Brinton as something to be expanded.
The Liberal Democrats have also committed to scrap reassessments for long-term, severe conditions, scrap the work capability assessment and reverse the cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, and improve occupational health services to support employers in employing disabled people.
Watch the Disability Hustings on YouTube.
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