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Issue Date:- 23 July 2008

New study charts state of play on disability equality

MAJOR new research by Anne McGuire, Minister for Disabled People, provides a unique snapshot of the lives of nearly 2000 disabled people in Great Britain.  Published in the run-up to the release of a Green Paper on Welfare Reform, the report showed that 9 out of 10 working disabled people believe their job has a positive impact on their life, keeping them active and giving them financial independence.  It also confirmed that the number of disabled people in paid employment has increased.  However, just over 25% felt more could have been done to help them stay in work.

Experiences and Expectations of Disabled People reports their views on a range of the issues, including employment, education, transport, health and discrimination.  Commissioned by the Office for Disability Issues, the study actively involved disabled people throughout the research process.  Other key findings were:

* A large majority of disabled people reported being generally satisfied with their health care and the level of control in their lives.  Most also felt that their home was suitable for their needs

* The majority of disabled people are socially active.  92% disabled people had recently taken part in at least 1 social activity in the previous month before the study was conducted

* The results match other trends showing that the number of disabled people in paid employment has increased.  National statistics show that the employment rate of disabled people has increased by 5% over this period, from 43% in 2001 to 48% in the latest available data for 2008

* Disabled people in work expressed positive views about how work contributed to their lives.  The vast majority felt that work helps to keep them active (96%), provides financial independence (95%), enables them to meet other people (92%) and makes them feel that they are contributing to society (90%)

* In many respects, disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to experience disadvantage.  Compared with the population as a whole, disabled people tend to live in households with lower incomes, are less likely to be in paid work and less likely to hold academic qualifications.

* A minority of disabled people felt they lack the skills to find work.  1 in 10 working-age respondents not in work felt that they did not have the skills to get a job.  This was highest amongst younger people - 17% of 16-34 year olds not in work

Minister for Disabled People Anne McGuire said:- "This report provides a comprehensive insight into the lives of disabled people and provides the type of information we need to ensure that we target our policies and approaches to help meet the Government's vision of equality for disabled people by 2025.  Some of the criticisms are really challenging but we need to know more about the areas where we are managing to narrow the disability equality gap and look at where we still have more work to do.

One of the main messages from the report is around work.  As the research shows, disabled people of working age can and want to work, but still face barriers in accessing and staying in jobs.  We are determined to make sure we provide the support that disabled people need to make the most of the opportunities that are out there.  We will shortly be bringing together a green paper on welfare reform that will set out the next steps in making these goals a reality, giving disabled people the opportunity to take their place in the workforce."

Transport Minister, Rosie Winterton said:- "Today's research emphasises again the importance of remaining independent for those with a disability, and the key role that public transport can have in this - especially when providing access to work.  It is not right that travel should be a barrier to employment.  The Government will continue to consult with disabled people and local authorities on measures that are important to them, such as low-floor buses, accessible taxis, accessible stations, Blue Badges and the concessionary bus pass, so that we have a transport system people feel confident using and that reflects the population it serves" 

UCLan graduate overcomes the odds to get a degree in care

SOUTHPORT'S Mary Ford has defied the odds and has graduated with a 2:1 degree in Care, Community and Citizenship this week from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), having received ongoing support from its Disability Support Unit for her cerebral palsy throughout her studies.

Mary, 45, has recently completed a 4 year course at UCLan, comprising a foundation course and BA (Hons) degree in Care, Community and Citizenship, whilst also working part time as a librarian. 

Mary has achieved an Upper 2nd degree and worked to a high standard throughout her course, which has enabled her to take advantage of every learning opportunity on offer – including a visit to the House of Commons and study tour of Poland – despite her mobility problems.

Mary has already secured a place on the highly prestigious Disability Studies MA course at Leeds University and hopes to go on to work in disability advocacy.

She comments:- “I chose to study at UCLan because of the wide range of opportunities and facilities for physically disabled people.  The staff here have been incredibly supportive and have helped me to gain confidence in my studies and in myself.  I’m excited to be graduating this week and am looking forward to what the future will bring.”

Do your job? No thanks.

STRIKING local government workers in the North West have slammed the region’s MPs for failing to accept a challenge to join them in the front line.

Only 2 - Eccles MP Ian Stewart and Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron – agreed to roll up their sleeves to work alongside a UNISON member.  The rest have either failed to respond or turned down an invitation from the union to swap their desks in Westminster for a job with a local authority.

The union’s North West Regional Secretary Frank Hont invited all 76 North West MPs to join members at work to understand why they were protesting over pay. 

Mr Hont said:- “Politicians and employers have had a lot to say about why they think local government workers shouldn’t be given more than a 2.45% rise, but they are clearly not so keen to do the job themselves.  Working in local government is often difficult, dirty and dangerous.  Council workers are frequently assaulted and often violently attacked in their day-to-day roles.

National press reports in the run-up to this week’s 2 day strike revealed more than 20,000 sets of Home Office-approved body armour had been issued to local government staff, including councils.  Concerns for their health and safety, as well as worries over their pay and terms and conditions, are among the key reasons local government workers join a trade union.  It is disappointing most local MPs were not willing to join them in the workplace.”

Arrangements are now being made for MPs Ian Stewart and Tim Farron to work with UNISON members.


Letters To Editor=:- "Looking for old army pal."

"I'M hoping that one of your readers might be able to help me find an old army pal.  His name is D.W. (Barry) Snape, he served with me in the R.E.M.E. 1955-1958.  He lived in the Southport area before joining the army and his father was in business in the Manchester area. 

Any info would be much appreciated, my ring me on 07729422668.  Thanking you in advance."  Len Ingham... from Wigan, UK...

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