Family Resources Survey shows disabled people could decide general election

1 July 2014

by Guy Parckar

Today the government published new data which shows disabled people will be a major factor in deciding the next general election.

The Family Resources Survey gathers lots of information from thousands of people across the UK, and once a year the government publishes this information.

Today’s report shows that:

  • more than one in six of us are disabled, meaning that there are 12.2 million disabled people in the UK
  • your likelihood of being disabled goes up with age, so about 7% of children are disabled, compared to nearly half (43%) of pensioners
  • disabled people are much less likely to be in work than non-disabled people
  • disabled people are more likely to be living on very low incomes than non-disabled people, and that gap is growing

As disabled people live longer, and overall our population gets older, the number of disabled people in the UK has been increasing every year.

All of this means that the more than 12 million disabled people across the UK really could decide the result of the next general election — politicians need to pay attention!

Disabled people will have lots of different political views and ideas about what changes should be made, but there are some things that we think could make a real difference:

  • Social care — at the moment too many people don’t get the care and support that they need to live their lives. Really investing in social care could make a huge difference for many people, as could stopping the scandal of ‘flying’ 15-minute care visits.
  • Access — even though there are millions of people with a disability across the UK, disabled people still tell us that they have trouble getting around in their local communities. Committing to make our country more accessible would be a major change for the better.
  • Transport — transport is crucial in all our lives, getting us to school, to work, to see friends. Yet much of our public transport is still not available for many disabled people. Only half of our train stations are step-free — will the political parties address this issue?
  • Employment — disabled people are much less likely to be in work than non-disabled people, but many say they desperately want a job. Politicians could be making sure that people get the support that they need and that employers treat disabled candidates fairly.
  • Homes — only 5% of the homes in England meet a basic set of criteria that the government use to test if disabled people could easily visit them. This means that thousands of homes are just not open to many people — building more disabled-friendly homes could make a massive difference.

There are many things that the politicians could do to make sure that they are getting their policies on disability right. But the figures released today make it clear that there is one thing that they can’t do: they can’t ignore over 12 million voters!

Guy Parckar is head of policy and campaigns at Leonard Cheshire Disability. He tweets at @GuyParckar.

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