GM Big Disability Survey 2022 – Cost of Living
The GM Disabled People’s Panel undertook a survey of disabled GM residents. We now have analysed and produced a report with recommendations for action. At this present time, this is the largest survey of disabled people in the UK. While it focussed on Cost of Living issues it looked at many issues for GM residents and the results will have relevance to the entire country.
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Disabled people in Greater Manchester are living under a threefold assault on our rights and quality of life: firstly, through austerity, then Covid-19 and now as a result of the ‘cost- of- living’ crisis.
To highlight the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, the GM Disabled People’s Panel ran a Survey from the end of June until Early August. 1,495 responses were submitted from disabled people living within Greater Manchester. In addition, we ran “easy” workshops for disabled people for whom an on-line survey was inaccessible. We received approximately 500 hundred pages of valuable lived-experience / qualitative data from disabled people which we now are considering how best to share these.
Worryingly, there are a number of indicators in the 2022 Survey findings that show that the situation for disabled people in Greater Manchester has worsened since our last Survey which was undertaken in 2020. The 2022 Survey also shows that there is a large percentage of disabled people for whom the layers of disadvantage are significantly impacting on their quality of life.
Key areas for action
• The need to increase Disabled people’s income – the findings reveal that disabled people are experiencing shocking levels of poverty (see data below). There is an urgent need for the GM Local Authorities and the City Region institutions to address these issues and lobby Central Government to introduce appropriate measures, for example uprating of benefits and introducing social tariffs for energy supplies;
• The lack of decent, affordable and accessible housing. There is action that can be taken at City Region and Local Authority Level and the GM System can use its voice to influence Central Government and national policies;
• The lack of fulfilment of Disabled People’s human rights, including the right to independent living, adequate housing, food, employment and education (the Panel will be submitting its findings to the UN ICESCR shadow report). Disabled people are commonly often unaware of their rights under legislation and when they are aware, have little access to legal advice provision and advocacy, in particular to face-to-face advice. This is exacerbated by the barriers Disabled People face in using their voice to influence policy. Disabled people are often also digitally excluded and have a right to accessible information
Headline findings (more data is included in the technical analysis)
The percentages below refer to the percentage of respondents to the survey questions.
• Majority found dealing with benefits very difficult. 13% said it was impossible. In text responses there was overwhelming evidence of an abusive, inaccessible, and unfair system that negatively impacts physical and mental health.
• 20% sometimes could not afford essential items, 28% could afford essential items but nothing else.
• A quarter of respondents have had to use a foodbank.
• 68% have changed the food they eat to save money.
• A third cannot pay all their bills, 70% were using heat and light less, 54% were eating less, 7% were missing payments and 31% were borrowing money.
• 39% were in debt, owing money on: credit cards, loans, overdrafts, family loans. Several were on restrictive debt management plans.
• 75% said they spend more on gas and electric because they were disabled. And a similar proportion are worried about this coming winter.
• 23% were not using digital services because of lack of money.
• 29% did not have the right support they need because they could not afford it.
• 29% said Social care was worse than 2 years ago.
• People felt social care on the whole did not fully meet their needs for a social life or their wellbeing, with a quarter saying it did not at all.
• The majority of people employing Personal Assistants said it was harder to recruit and retain good quality staff.
• 11% wanted social care but had been refused.
• 43% said their housing only partially (29%) or did not at all (14%) meet their housing needs. Up from 37% in the first survey (2020)
• There is a correlation between poverty, poor housing, and foodbank use.
• 64% said they were worried about their housing situation, double the proportion who said that 2 years ago.
• 58% were worried that they might not be able to stay in their home because the right support was not available.
• Only a quarter of respondents felt they could travel everywhere they wanted to. Citing: Accessibility and Cost, and also Covid, and lack of joined up journeys.
• 82% said sometimes they feel stuck with a problem with no one to help them. Citing: benefits forms, employment rights.
• 63% rely on family for help and support.
• The biggest negative influence on people’s wellbeing and mental health was poverty (66%).
• 26% were worried about hate crime and 20% had experienced hate crime.
• 39% said attitudes towards disabled people had gotten worse than before covid.
• 48% said they feel safe and included in their neighbourhood, but 18% did not and 35% felt that only partially.
• 45% had been stopped from getting support for their mental health, citing lack of appropriate services, waiting times, inaccessible pathways and procedures, and prejudice.
• 62% of respondents said they think being disabled would affect their treatment.
• Over two thirds felt that their physical healthcare needs were not being fully met.
• 43% said they could not afford everything they need to keep well.
• Accessibility of services found the most inaccessible were: Wheelchair services (65%), Physiotherapy (62%), GP’s (59%), and Dentists (48%).
• The majority are still taking Covid infection control precautions, 10% are still shielding.
• 58% said government was harming or neglecting disabled people. An increase on 2 years ago of 10 points.
• Compared to Local authorities where 38% said that. An increase over 2 years ago of 12 points.
• 42% felt unwelcome in mainstream education.
• 28% were affected (primarily transport and accommodation) by the increased cost of living and it was affecting their education.
• 50% of respondents were not in employment.
• 80% of those in work felt they did not get the same career opportunities as non-disabled people.
• 48% said their pay was not enough to cover all their living expenses.
• 27% had left a job because of disabling barriers in the workplace.
• 57% felt unsafe going to work due to Covid
[For Reference Report Published 21.10.2022]