Disabled people tell Hancock where to stick his coronavirus laws

Matt Hancock in another coronavirus test scandal
Steve Topple

The Coronavirus Act is once again under the spotlight. This time it’s disabled people who are challenging the changes it made to parts of their lives by launching a petition calling on Matt Hancock to “scrap” parts of it.

The Coronavirus Act

The Canary reported in March that the government made sweeping changes to various laws because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The new rules contained several changes that hit disabled people. The Canary wrote at the time that:

The rules and standards for social care for older, learning disabled, and other people will be relaxed. This means councils can reduce the service and support they provide to vulnerable people. It could leave countless people, reliant on support, without it.

This included disabled people. The Canary also said that:

Councils will not have to do new care plans for older, learning disabled, and other people who need new care. This includes “looked after” and vulnerable children. It means countless vulnerable people could get no support at all.

All these changes came into effect with the Coronavirus Act. On 30 September, MPs debated it. But as Disability Rights UK reported, the government has not reversed the changes to social care.

As a result, disabled people’s organisation Inclusion London has launched a petition.

If you tolerate this

It’s calling on health secretary Hancock to scrap the changes. The petition says:

The Coronavirus Act has diminished our rights and allows local authorities to strip away social care. We must stand together and push the government to give them back.

We believe Disabled people already have too few rights and protections, and taking them away at a time when we need support the most is unacceptable. Disabled people have born the brunt of the pandemic, statistics show, almost 60% of people who have died because of Covid-19 were disabled.

We cannot and should not tolerate this.

You can sign the petition here.

Disabled people’s rights eroded

Inclusion London cited stats which show how the act has hit disabled people:

  • Learning disability charity Mencap found that councils had “at least halved” care packages for most learning disabled people.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that there was an 134% increase in the reported deaths of people living with learning difficulties between 10 April and 15 May.
  • The Disabled Children’s Partnership found that councils had stopped “vital care and support” for 76% of families with disabled children.

But that’s not all. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that by July:

Around one-quarter (25%) of disabled people who were receiving medical care before the coronavirus pandemic indicated they were currently receiving treatment for only some of their conditions (compared with less than 1 in 10 (7%) non-disabled people who had a physical or mental health condition or illness and were receiving care before the pandemic).

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch warned that:

The UK must show its commitment to the rights of people with disabilities by swiftly addressing the most glaring concerns. For some, it is truly a matter of life and death.

Successive governments have ‘gravely’ and ‘systematically’ abused disabled people’s human rights since 2010. The Coronavirus Act is simply another step too far in the eroding of their rights. Inclusion London is right to call for Hancock to reverse the changes. Now – will he listen?

Featured image via Guardian News – YouTube

Get involved

  • Sign Inclusion London’s petition here.

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