Disability Manifesto 2017: Welfare Reform


Welfare Reform

The policies of austerity have hit Disabled People particularly badly. Since the Government’s Emergency Budget in 2010, Disabled People have seen massive cuts to their benefits and support services, including £18 billion from the benefits budget.

More Disabled People than non-disabled People are living in poverty. Welfare reforms have had a particularly disproportionate, cumulative impact on Disabled People’s rights to live independently and enjoy an adequate standard of living

UK data from 2015/16 shows that 26% of families where at least one member is disabled were living in poverty compared with 20% of families with no disabled members.

Across the UK, 18.4% of Disabled People aged 16-64 were considered to be in food poverty in 2014 compared with just 7.5% of non-disabled People. Disabled People over the age of 65 were twice as likely as non-disabled People in the same age group to be in food poverty: 6.8% compared with 3.3%.

Disabled People and Carers have already experienced a drop in income of £500 million since 2010 and most recently, one calculation is that with six simultaneous welfare cuts taking place, up to 3.7 million Disabled People will lose £28.3 billion of support by 2018. Twice as many Disabled adults live in persistent poverty compared with non-disabled adults.i

When the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the distance that a person was unable to walk in order to qualify for the enhanced mobility component and crucially access to Motability funding, was reduced from 50 metres to 20 metres.

Analysis of previously-released official data by Muscular Dystrophy UK shows that the number of people eligible for Motability funding has fallen in half during the reassessment process for PIP. Of the 254,200 people who were eligible for Motability funding under DLA who were reassessed for PIP by 31 October 2016, 126,300 people have lost access. 51,000 people have already returned their Motability funded cars.

These changes represent a serious threat to independence, social inclusion and quality of life. There are also serious risks to the economy with more Disabled People dropping out of work or education leading to increased poverty and isolation, with the associated health risks. This will inevitably lead to rising costs elsewhere, such as unemployment benefits, social care and the NHS.

What is even more unfair is that Disabled People are taking a bigger ‘hit’ from the cuts than any other group in society. A recent report by the Centre for Welfare Reform found that Disabled People, who make up 8% of the population, are being hit by a massive 29% of all cuts being implemented.ii This cannot be allowed to continue.

We call on all political parties to commit to undertaking, at the earliest opportunity, a cumulative impact assessment of the impact which welfare reform, changes to social care funding and eligibility criteria and the closure of the ILF will have on Disabled People. All further cuts to welfare benefits for Disabled People should be put on hold until this assessment has been completed.

We further call on all political parties to commit to a government-led inquiry into the incidence of suicides amongst Disabled People linked to benefit sanctions and to cuts in services.

We also call on all political parties to commit to guarantee that no Disabled People will lose vital support as a result of the change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and to reverse the change to the 20 metre rule.

i British Household Survey 2005-08

Disability Manifesto: Employment

Yesterday, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living launched The Disability Manifesto for the General Election 2017. The aim of the manifesto is to highlight the issues that Disabled People feel ALL political parties should commit to,  following the General Election. Over the coming days, we will be focusing on a particular section of the Disability Manifesto each day and welcome your feedback on our Facebook page or via Twitter using the hashtag #DisMan17download

Today, we are looking at the topic of Employment:


Reducing unemployment – especially long-term unemployment – and making the workplace fully inclusive and accessible to all are both vital to the UK’s economic recovery, but many Disabled People face a range of barriers to work and there is a still large and persistent disparity in the employment rates of Disabled People compared to non-disabled People and this gap has widened since 2010/11. Less than half (47.6%) of Disabled People in Britain are in work compared to almost 80% of non-disabled People.

The disability pay gap in Britain continues to widen. In 2015-16 there was a gap in median hourly earnings: Disabled People earned £9.85 compared with £11.41 for non-disabled People.

The next Government needs to address the gap between rhetoric on the need for more Disabled People to work and the lack of effective support for the many Disabled People who want to do so. Supporting Disabled People to work reduces dependence on benefits and increases the number of tax paying citizens contributing to the nation’s economy.

We call on all political parties to commit to halving the employment gap for Disabled People over the course of the next Parliament.

We call on all political parties to commit to eradicate the pay gap between Disabled People and non-disabled People.

We call on all political parties to commit to double the number of Disabled People benefiting from Access to Work support in the next 3 years.

Funding for Access to Work, which is proven to be effective in helping Disabled People to move into work and to stay in work, should be increased.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that Disabled People with complex support requirements have equal access to all employment support programmes.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page

SPECTRUM 2017 Disability Manifesto out now!

There are more than 13.3 million Disabled People and people with long-term health conditions in the UK – a very sizeable part of the electorate in 2017.

We believe it is essential for Disabled People’s voices to be heard in the debates around the 2017 General Election – not only because they represent a large number of votes but, more importantly, because they are deeply affected by so many of the key issues at the heart of political debate.

On the 25th May 2017, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living will be launching our Disabled People’s DISABILITY MANIFESTO – a pragmatic and realistic range of proposals which shows how the Government, any Government, could address the unfairness, the indignities and the discrimination that Disabled People have faced because of austerity measures.manifestocover2017


The launch of the DISABILITY Manifesto will be the start of our campaign to bring the needs, and the solutions that Disabled People are proposing, to the eyes and minds of the electorate, and into the minds of politicians and policy makers.

Reporting Hate Crime? – There’s an app for that!

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Regular readers will know that SPECTRUM is a 3rd party hate crime reporting centre – working with Hampshire Police and 14 organisations across Southampton to raise the awareness of what hate crime is, supporting people affected by hate crime, and encouraging people to report hate crimes whenever they are unfortunate to be the victim of a hate crime incident.

But two issues remain –

What is hate crime? – who does it affect?

How do I report hate crime?

Both of these questions can now be easily answered by downloading an APP onto your smart phone.

However – I know from experience that finding the Hampshire Police Hate Crime APP can be difficult. How do you find the APP you want in app stores that contain hundred’s of thousands of apps?

Worry no more – just follow the two links below to download the hate crime APP of both iPhone and Android APP Stores:

For iPhone users: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hate-crime/id599314473?mt=8

For Android Users: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.revelmob.hatecrime

Help us to get everyone to download these APPs onto their phones – once they have been downloaded then users can quickly and easily report hate crime incidents whenever they happen.

If it is easy – people will do it. Help us to make it easier by sharing this information to your networks

Thank you

SPECTRUM CIL – A Brief History

A brief history of SPECTRUM – 33 years and counting:

The Early years:

We were born as Southampton Centre for Independent Living (SCIL) at a public meeting held in Southampton in November 1984 by a small group of Disabled People who met to develop support mechanisms which enabled them to live independently. SCIL was one of the first Centre’s for Independent Living in the UK.  SCIL remained essentially a dedicated group of volunteers until the early 1990’s, making itself known, campaigning and gaining representation on influential bodies.

In 1987, SCIL gained office space in Canute Road, Southampton. However, in 1990, we became ’homeless’ due to accommodation and resource difficulties. These problems led SCIL to rethink its strategy.  We decided to assume a dual role: our services to Disabled People remaining free to Disabled People, but a significant change was introduced to develop income generating support services, and the introduction of fee paying services to professional, statutory and commercial enterprises.

During 1991, SCIL received two grants to finance the appointment of our first full-time paid Coordinator and to develop Disability Equality Training. This enabled SCIL to develop policies and structures to ensure the efficient running of SCIL and to demonstrate our values, principles and accountability to members; this sound foundation enabled us to grow in size and influence.

The middle ages:

The Northlands Road years: A move to Northlands Road in 1992 enabled SCIL to expand our services quickly, identifying opportunities to provide services which supported Disabled People to live independently via early ‘Direct Payments’ schemes. We developed consumer based auditing services, personal development training, and a range of training and consultancy services aimed at statutory authority staff and businesses. We also continued to campaign locally and nationally on disability issues and to further our demand for civil and human rights.  We gained recognition for the role we played, and our ability to effectively represent the views of Disabled People.

By 1997 we had 8 staff. However, by 2004 this had increased to 24. We were bursting at the seams in Northlands Road; necessitating the next stage of our development.

The Unity 12 years:

In 2005 we purchased, renovated and moved to our current office premises in Rose Road which we called Unity 12. This enabled us to embark on a new and exciting development in our history. We set-up a subsidiary organisation, Unity 12 CIC, as the holding company to manage the property on our behalf. As sole shareholders in Unity 12, we have led 2 major refurbishment programmes and have developed fully accessible conference facilities, meeting rooms and office space that we rent to like minded organisations who deliver Independent Living opportunities for Disabled People in the community.

In 2008 we setup a 2nd subsidiary, SCIL Continuing Care CIC (Now called SPECTRUM Continuing Care), to deliver personalised support services to Disabled People with health care needs.

Modern Times:

In 2013 we rebranded ourselves as SPECTRUM Centre for independent Living, reflecting the diversity of our services, and the fact that we didn’t just operate in Southampton any more.

In 2016 we initiated a new strategy, to work more closely with our subsidiaries, develop our skill sets, make better use of our resources, and to work collaboratively to develop innovative new services and secure our future. This strategy will see the appointment of our first HR & Performance Manager.

SPECTRUM has a book available, containing a detailed exploration of our history and the history of Disabled People and the Independent Living Movement. Download a copy here: SPECTRUM – Our History

 SPECTRUM today:

SPECTRUM has weathered difficult political, social and economic climates, shrinking and growing accordingly. However, SPECTRUM has cemented its reputation locally, regionally and nationally as one of the most respected, influential and innovatively proactive User-Led Organisations (ULO’s) in the UK.

SPECTRUM currently provides the following services:

Training, consultancy and advisory services to public, commercial and third sector organisations

Personal development opportunities for Disabled People

Direct Payments and Personal & Managed Budget support services

Facilitated co-production opportunities with Disabled People

Personal Assistance register (web-based)

Student Social Worker placements

Mentored support for Disabled People

Advocacy support for Disabled People

Supporting the development of new User Led Organisations

Accessible office, conference and meeting facilities (via Unity 12 CIC)

Personalised care packages for Disabled People using NHS Continuing Care funding (via SPECTRUMCC CIC)

The future:

Throughout our history we have succeeded where other ULO’s have not by maintaining clear aims, values and principles; by being pragmatic and innovative; and by leading from the front on user-led developments and issues that we, as Disabled People, feel strongly about.

SPECTRUM will not rest until we achieve our aims and Disabled People are enabled to live independently and enjoy the same choices, control and life opportunities that non-disabled people take for granted.

Visit our website for more information: www.SpectrumCIL.co.uk

Think you know Disabled People … Think again

Hate Crime – What is it, and why does it matter?


SPECTRUM has been raising the profile and understanding of hate crime, particularly Disability Hate Crime, for several years. in 2015 we organised a Hate Crime seminar in Winchester which attracted a huge attendance from people and organisations across all equality groups, as well as the Police and Local Authorities to look at how we could support people to recognise, report and act on incidents of hate crime. In fact we had people queuing out of the door wanting to get into the seminar!

More recently, SPECTRUM has agreed to become a ‘3rd Party Hate Crime Reporting Centre’ as part of an important initiative by Hampshire Constabulary to develop a network of reporting centres across the county, Southampton & Portsmouth. We are very pleased to be one of the initial 13 reporting centres.

SPECTRUM knows that Disability Hate Crime is massively under recognised and most, if not all, Disabled People will have a some time experienced a hate crime incident. Sadly, many Disabled People view hate crime as something they just have to put up with. (as is the case in other equality groups affected by hate crime)

We want this attitude to change

Hate Crime Brand_FINAL elements_Artboard 1.pdf

As part of our commitment to raising the profile of what hate crime is, and how and why people should report incidents, we have agreed to work with Hampshire Police to co-ordinate the 3rd Party Hate Crime Reporting Centres’ Network – the aim being to develop a coordinated approach to tackling all forms of hate crime as they affect all sections of our community. We also hope to develop information and awareness raising materials for the whole network to use. We want to grow the network of 3rd party reporting centres as well.

The fact is that Disability Hate Crime is the most under reported form of hate crime. SPECTRUM hopes that by putting its money where its mouth is and take a leadership role in raising the profile of hate crime – and in the process help More Disabled People to recognise hate crime for what it is, and to support them to report incidents to the police.

The author knows from very personal experience that reporting hate crime incidents IS worthwhile and the Police DO take it seriously when reported

The rest of this article consists of a presentation made by Ahmed Sasso from Hampshire Police to SPECTRUM’s staff & Directors.

I hope the information in these slides help to improve your understanding.










Ensuring your organisation is attractive to Disabled People isn’t just a matter of removing physical barriers


At SPECTRUM we spend lots of time working with organisations to enable them to ‘gain access’ to Disabled People – both in terms of creating inclusive services, but also helping the organisation to be attractive to Disabled People and therefore to gain access to the ‘Purple Pound’

(Purple Pound: The spending power of Disabled People, variously described at £212BN. See What is the Purple Pound for more information).

The point being that any organisation that doesn’t provide accessible and attractive services directly; or via a ‘reasonable adjustment’ is:

  • breaking the Law: Equality Act 2010
  • limiting its business opportunities: no business can afford to discard such a large section of its customer base or skilled and creative employees (There are 12.9 million people in the UK)

When thinking about how your organisation can ensure it is attractive to Disabled People, it is easy to think of ramps, high visibility furniture and hearing assistance aids which meet the needs of people with physical or sensory impairments; but how many of us think about the needs of people with HIDDEN impairments?

We are, of course talking about millions of people, and – in fact, whilst we often think of Disabled People as Wheelchair users, the reality is that only about 10% of Disabled People actually use wheelchairs regularly.

Therefore, how do we ensure your organisation is attractive to the 90% of Disabled People who do not use wheelchairs?

The answer of course is to work with organisations like SPECTRUM. We can help your organisation to be attractive to all Disabled People; and to do so cost effectively.

So, to whet your appetite, please read the story of one of our members of staff with a hidden impairment. It shows how businesses need to think clearly and creatively about being attractive to people with hidden impairments – it also shows very clearly how costly it can be (to the organisation and the individual) to get it wrong.



Water, water everywhere – but not a drop of (diet) Coke* to drink

By Jennie Musson, Membership & Information Officerp3

I wanted to write about the following experience I had recently to highlight the issue of hidden impairments, and also the lack of awareness about hidden impairments generally. When Joe Public thinks about Disabled People, more often than not, the image of a wheelchair user springs to mind. However, when someone has a hidden impairment, then sometimes they encounter barriers other people may never have considered. I have had Type 1 diabetes for 42 years, have been using the insulin pump since 2007 and mostly do not encounter many problems when out and about, but on this particular day, that was about to change.

I was visiting my brother in a well-known seaside resort to celebrate his birthday. In this spirit of joviality and celebration, we headed off, parents in tow, to the nearest watering-hole (which shall remain forever nameless).

“I am sure they will do something for you”, remarked my brother, blissfully unaware of the events that were about to unfold.

We all piled in to the pub and my brother started ordering drinks. As I did not want to order alcohol or fruit juice which affect my blood sugar levels and I was planning to drink the next day, I decided it would be better to have a Diet Coke. When my brother ordered the aforementioned, there was an awkward silence and then the barman replied “We don’t do Diet Coke”. We all looked at each other and then my brother tried again with “What sugar-free drinks do you do?” Again, the awkward pause , then – “I can do fizzy water-“, which I declined, while giving the offending barman the evil eye. He then volunteered to make me a cup of tea. I have got some standards when in a pub, so this was similarly declined. The upshot was that I sat there with no drink at all, feeling rather annoyed and pretending not to be – after all, it was my brother’s birthday and I didn’t wish to spoil it by giving someone a good hard poke in the eye. After this, we decided to go to another bar and I breathed a sigh of relief.

We enter the second bar (which shall also remain nameless) and ordered the same, this time getting the snooty response “Oh, we don’t stock Coca-Cola products”. I did manage to restrain myself from having a full-on screaming fit on the floor like a toddler, but it was a close thing. In the end, I did manage to obtain a diet Tonic Water (oh, the luxury!) and went to my seat feeling as if it were the Holy Grail.

When I look back on that afternoon, I feel mildly amused, and now make jokes with my husband about “the bars that time forgot” but also annoyed, because both of those establishments obviously think that my custom (and that of people like me) is not important to them. I felt like a second-class citizen and in this day and age, this is unacceptable. It may be a small thing to a bar owner, but for me this is an access issue and one that could be easily remedied, if there was the will to do so.

* Other brands are available!