14 million disabled people are ‘falling through the cracks’ as vital services miss out on Government funding
Ten disability charities have today criticised the Government for failing to provide emergency funding for vital services for disabled people, despite a significant increase in demand.
Disability Charity Consortium (DCC) members say the UK’s 14 million disabled people are being “forgotten by the Government” and “allowed to fall through the cracks”, with some services on the brink of collapse.
The ten consortium members are: Scope, Sense, Mind, Action on Hearing Loss, Business Disability Forum, Mencap, National Autistic Society, RNIB, Disability Rights UK and Leonard Cheshire.
According to the consortium, vital services for people with a physical disability in particular have missed out on emergency funding so far. The DCC has highlighted a lack of a coherent strategy to specifically support disabled people through the pandemic and beyond, with many services suspended and facing a “perilous” future.
In a joint statement, the co-chairs of the DDC Neil Heslop, CEO of Leonard Cheshire, and Mark Hodgkinson, CEO of Scope, said: “Despite repeated efforts to raise the issue, it feels like the UK’s 14 million disabled people, particularly those with physical conditions, are being forgotten and allowed to fall through the cracks.
“Providers of services are facing spiralling costs, a rapid drop in income from cancelled fundraising activities, but huge surges in demand as a result of the crisis, creating the perfect storm.
“Right now, we are collectively supporting millions of disabled people who are anxious, isolated and alone. Our staff are providing vital services, information and support under incredibly difficult circumstances. Sometimes we are the only place that disabled people have to turn.
“We want to be there for every disabled person who needs us, but this could soon be an impossibility. Disability charities, large and small, are at risk of disappearing at the very time that disabled people need us most. Without vital funds, we will have stark choices to make about cutting services or, in some cases, closing our doors.”
Whilst some money has been made available for mental health, autism and learning disability, it is nowhere near enough to match the demand for services, despite disabled people being the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the DDC has warned.
Disability Charity Consortium members say essential services may have to stop and this could lead to “unthinkable consequences” for the future.
Social care services are facing massive staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) purchase costs, the charities say, with organisations spending up to £800,000 a month on PPE alone. Meanwhile, consortium members have reported that helplines have seen calls soared by up to 80 percent.
Charities have also rapidly digitised services and programmes to keep them running during lockdown.