Disability Manifesto 2017: The NHS

With just a few more days till the General Election, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living is today focusing on the NHS. The aim of the Disability Manifesto is to highlight the issues that Disabled People feel ALL political parties should commit to, following the General Election. We welcome your feedback on our Facebook page or via Twitter using the hashtag #DisMan17



Disabled People, particularly People with Learning Difficulties or Mental Health Conditions, experience significant and persistent health inequalities and are likely to die younger than other people.i They are also much less likely to receive health checks, screening tests and other routine healthcare treatment.

Disabled People are less likely to report positive experiences in accessing healthcare services.

Despite a commitment by the Government to make improvements to the provision of mental health services, considerable shortcomings remain. Disabled adults are more likely to report poor mental health and wellbeing than non-disabled adults.

There is also considerable evidence of low levels of disability awareness among NHS staff, inadequate healthcare treatmentii and access barriers to health services.iii

We call on all political parties to commit to eliminating health inequalities faced by Disabled People by 2025. This is a challenging target but one that can be achieved if the will is there to do so.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that Disabled People are able to access NHS services on an equal basis as everyone else. This can be achieved as part of a wider improvement programme – particularly in primary care, where many people face difficulty accessing services because of restricted opening times and procedures.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that mental health services are given equal priority to physical health services in the NHS.

We also call on all political parties to guarantee to close, within the first year of the next Parliament, the remaining hospitals in England where People with Learning Difficulties are still being sent, despite promises to end the practice in the wake of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal.

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

i Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) How Fair is Britain, Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010’, Chapter 6; Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (Northern Ireland) (2005) Equal Lives Review of Policy and Services for People with a Learning Disability in Northern Ireland, p. 29; NHS Health Scotland (2004) People with Learning Disabilities in Scotland: The Health Needs Assessment Report’;

ii Disability Rights Commission (2006) Equal Treatment – Closing the Gap. disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/DRC-Health-FI-main.pdf

iii Disability Rights Commission (2006) ‘Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap’; Redley M et al (2012) ‘Healthcare for men and women with learning disabilities: understanding inequalities in access’, Disability and Society, Vol. 27, No. 6: 747–759; BMA (2014) ‘Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability’.

Other Methods to Follow what SPECTRUM Thinks & Does


SPECTRUM uses a variety of Social Media platforms to communicate with, including:

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/SPECTRUM.CIL/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SPECTRUMCIL

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/spectrum-cil-42965ba5/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/southamptoncil

Why not try out all these different flavours of SPECTRUM!

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Baroness Jane Campbell and Sian Vasey Discuss SPECTRUM CIL’s Disability Manifesto 2017

SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living was delighted to welcome Baroness Jane Campbell, a cross bench peer in the House of Lords and Sian Vasey, a Disabled film maker, to Southampton to discuss all things Independent Living related with our Chief Executive, Ian Loynes. They covered a wide range of topics from employment to welfare reform, not forgetting Brexit of course. You can watch highlights of their conversation below.

All of them agreed that none of the political parties were yet offering a comprehensive disability strategy that would enable Disabled People to enjoy true equality within society.

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




Summary of ‘Disability Manifesto’ now available


With the General Election just a week away, many people are still deciding on who they are going to vote for. The election campaign has been dominated by issues such as social care and welfare reform, although sadly the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester has focused everyone’s minds on the issue of safety and security.

Our ‘Disability Manifesto’ which sets out what Disabled People would like political parties to commit to doing in the next Parliament, has been a great success. We are aware that it is a fairly long document so we have summarised the key commitments for each topic area into a short document so people can see at a glance what Disabled People want the political parties to sign up to.

We hope this summary document will be easier for some people to access. We will also be tweeting out the key commitments between now and the big day as well as releasing a video with some very special guests discussing our manifesto so keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page over the next few days.

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

The Importance of Accessible Information


In a (we suspect welcome!) respite from the General Election, SPECTRUM’s CEO, Ian Loynes, was at an event yesterday, concerning how we can help more User-Led Organisations (ULO) to flourish – we got onto the subject of the importance of accessible information

Actually, it is relevant to the General Election, simply because the main political parties are notoriously BAD at being able to produce their Manifestos in accessible formats!!

Anyway, back to the subject of this article. One of the key objectives of a ULO (such as SPECTRUM!) is to enable Disabled People to become empowered and make the world work for them. Now – we all know that knowledge is power; we also know that knowledge is much more difficult to gain without information.

At the ULO event we talked about producing accessible information. I said that SPECTRUM has its own accessible information standards that all staff are expected to follow for all information that we produce.

SPECTRUM’s access standards have been developed through 30+ years of working with Disabled People

One of the presenters asked me to share our standards with them. (Thank you Barod CIC from Wales)

And in that conversation was born the idea for this article.

WHY don’t we share our access standards with other organisations and people like yourself? That way we can encourage other organisations to think about how they can improve the accessibility of printed information

So, here it is: SPECTRUM’s Accessible Information Standards which are part of every staff induction process. We hope you find it interesting and stimulates you to think about how you can improve the accessibility of what you produce.

It is really an internal document, designed to help SPECTRUM ensure its staff and volunteers understand the importance of accessible information.

SPECTRUM’s Access Standards

SPECTRUM sets high standards for itself, providing accessible, inclusive and empowering services to all Disabled People. Information is of key importance in delivering these standards, and therefore SPECTRUM requires that information produced by the organisation must be available in a range of different accessible formats, to ensure that no Disabled Person is denied access to our services or information due to their impairment. All staff are required to abide by the access standards, as set out in this document at all times. Our access standards are an important part of SPECTRUM’s identity.

Standard Printed Information

To aid general accessibility, SPECTRUM’s policy standard is that all printed materials must be produced in a font size of at least 14, in a ‘san-serif’ font (for example Arial, Calibri or Comic Sans).

Text should generally be left-justified to aid accessibility. Where practical, a font size of 16 should be used as this is considered ‘large-print’ and will therefore be accessible to more people. Font sizes of less than 14 should not be used unless there are exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of your Line Manager.

Terms such as ‘Disabled People’, ‘Older People’ and ‘Independent Living’ should always have their first letters capitalised. These are political terms indicating ownership and should be respected in the same way we capitalise people’s names.

Abbreviations should be avoided whenever possible, and in all cases they should only be used when they are fully expanded the first time they are used in every document (for example HCC [Hampshire County Council]). The use of abbreviations will exclude anyone who does not understand what they mean, and they often make documents more difficult to read.

Care should be given to ensure that there is a high level of contrast between text colour and background/paper colour. Text overlaid on images or designs should be avoided at all times.

Avoid the use of CAPITAL LETTERS FOR HEADINGS. Strings of capital letters can be more difficult to read for visually impaired people, and in any case can give the impression you are shouting at your reader.

Care should also be given to avoid the unnecessary use of jargon and complex words which make information less accessible. Please examine what you write and consider if any of the words you use are not in common use, or could be substituted for simpler words. SPECTRUM encourages the use of ‘Plain English’ throughout its published information.

Whilst it may not realistic for all documents to be proof-read, please take care to ensure all official reports, leaflets and other formal documents which represent SPECTRUM and its views are proof-read by someone with these skills before distributing.

Other Accessible Formats

SPECTRUM has a policy of pro-actively assessing what other accessible formats might be required in particular circumstances. Common accessible formats include: Large Print, Easy Read, Audio Format, Braille and Easy Read.

General information (for example leaflets and booklets) produced by SPECTRUM should be quickly and willingly converted to these or other specifically requested formats on request. Depending on the nature and purpose of the information, it may be appropriate to have stocks of different formats available ‘off-the-shelf’.

Information to be used at meetings should be available in the following formats: Standard Print, Large Print, Audio Tape and Braille, unless the organiser is sure of who is attending and their access needs.

Accessible Meetings/Events

SPECTRUM requires that all meetings and events it organises are accessible to all. This will include using British Sign Language at any public meeting. Specific guidance and checklists are available from your Line Manager or the Office Manager on request.

Access Standards and SPECTRUM’s reputation

Please remember that SPECTRUM’s reputation for inclusion and accessibility are only as good as the working practices of our staff and volunteers. It is the responsibility of all staff to take care at all times to ensure everything we do and everything we produce is done with the intention of being as inclusive and accessible as possible.

SPECTRUM recognises that, in practice, there will be occasions when we unintentionally exclude individuals because we have failed to meet their access needs.

When this happens, it is very important that SPECTRUM accepts responsibility for the failure, even if we had no way of pre-empting the need in advance. In no circumstances should we imply that the individual who we have excluded is in any way to blame.

Staff involved should ensure that, when these situations occur, every effort is made to resolve the access issue. If it is not possible to resolve it on the spot, staff should discuss with the individual what actions SPECTRUM needs to take to meet the individual’s needs now, or after the event to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

In the event of access failures, staff should make every effort to ensure that SPECTRUM, as a whole, learns from the experience. Often the best way to do this is to report incidents to the Chief Executive who will be responsible for ensuring guidelines are modified appropriately. Whatever you do, do not try to hide the failure – it is only by being open and sharing the experience that SPECTRUM will learn and improve.

We hope this article has been useful.

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