New research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the Covid 19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on disabled people’s lives (Ed: No shit Sherlock!).
Well, it does not take a crystal ball when you consider disabled people are more likely to be surviving on a low income, are often isolated, and at higher risk from the virus itself due to underlying health issues. We are also struggling with additional food costs and unable to pay for medicine collections or rising utility bills as we shield at home. Many of us have also found that important hospital appointments have been cancelled with no indication of when we will be seen in the future. All this adds to the normal stresses and strains that we experience as disabled people during pre-pandemic times.
Further, if you are disabled AND part of the UK ethnic minority population this increases your chances of being affected by the virus. A recent Guardian analysis last week found ethnic minorities in England are dying in disproportionately high numbers compared with white people.
Coupled with this, although Universal credit has been increased by £20 since the lockdown to pay for the extra costs of the pandemic, there are millions of disabled people on older out-of-work benefits such as the employment and support allowance (ESA) who will not receive the extra financial support.
Frances Ryan, who writes for the Guardian newspaper, sums it up nicely in her recent column. She writes:
“The idea that poverty, isolation or even early death is somehow natural for disabled people is still worryingly prevalent. “Underlying health conditions” increasingly feels like a euphemism for those society has quietly given up on. Just look at how we still don’t know how many disabled people have died in care homes … Over the coming weeks, shut behind closed doors in more ways than one, disabled people will be all too easy to forget. The only thing more dangerous than inequality is when that inequality is invisible.”
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