One of the fundamental tenets of our law is to ensure that there is equality everywhere. The law is blind in that it provides legal recourse for everyone, be it a civil or a criminal matter. The need for the law to protect the innocent, the elderly, the infirm and the disabled has never been greater. The onward march of society needs to ensure that those who through disability cannot keep pace are not left behind.
MEANING OF “DISABLED”
The Equality Act 2010 defines a person as being disabled if they have a mental or physical impairment that is long-term and has a substantial negative impact on their ability to carry out their normal daily tasks. “Long-term” is defined as meaning at least 12 months in duration. “Substantial” means cases which are not trivial. Addition to non-prescribed drugs does not fall into the category of disability.
In 2014 the Office for Disability Issues updated its estimates on disability. It found that 11.6 million disabled people live in Great Britain. When this statistic is broken down, the ODI found there are 5.7 million adults of working age individuals, 5.1 million of State pension age, and 800,000 children. Further statistics provided in 2015 from Statista show that 21 per cent of the population has a disability.
It is axiomatic that disability increases with age. Recent statistics indicate that 45 per cent of adults above pension age suffer from disability. Of those of working age, 16 per cent have a disability. Six per cent of children have disability. Seventeen per cent of the disabled population were born with a particular disability.
So how do we break down disability according to impairment? Statistics garnered between 2014 and 2015 in the UK give these figures. Mobility-related disability is highest and comprises 53 per cent of total disability cases. The next highest is fatigue, breathing-related and stamina disability which has a 39 per cent share. Dexterity-related disability comes next with a 29 per cent share, and that is followed by mental health at 20 per cent, memory disability at 16 per cent, and learning disabilities comprising 15 per cent.
WORKPLACE AND PLAYGROUND
The statistics go on to show that disabled workers are the ones most likely to suffer in the workplace through unfair treatment. Some statistics obtained in 2008 indicate that 19 per cent of disabled workers have experienced unfair treatment whereas only 13 per cent of non-disabled staff have done so. In the school playground the statistics are even more stark. A 2017 survey gives the damning statistic that 75 per cent of children with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome were bullied, 70 per cent of those with physical disability were bullied, and 52 per cent of individuals with learning disabilities were also bullied.
STANDARD OF LIVING
When it comes to standard of living, we will not therefore be surprised by the statistics which are available here. So we see a greater number of families with disabled individuals are poor, with 19 per cent of disabled people present. This is set against the fact that only 15 per cent are poor in families where there is no disability. Twenty-one per cent of children account for those living in poverty in their households compared to only 16 per cent of children in households where there is no disability.
There are many organisations willing and able to help disabled people. One exceptionally good website and organisation is the Disability Information and Advice Line. If you have the need for advisory services for benefits, equality, communication and mobility, this is the go-to website. They will also provide exceptionally good information on welfare benefits, equipment, holidays, community care, discrimination and independent living.
You will be aware that a recent High Court decision has made the Government re‑examine decisions made in Personal Independence Payments. Particular scrutiny was given in the High Court to the refusal or down-grading by the DWP of those claimants who have had mental disability. If your application for PIP has been refused or the points awarded have been far less than you would have expected (e.g. compared to what you were getting under Disability Living Allowance) then do check whether your case is being re-examined in the light of the High Court decision. If not, give some thought to writing to DWP to ask them why you have not been reviewed, and if you get nowhere consider a fresh application for PIP.
NEED TO PROTECT
In a society where we believe in equality under the law, the various organisations of State must ensure that those with the least ability to fight their own corner must be protected.
Bude & Holsworthy