TUC 2010

Trades Union Congress
Experience of disabled people in the real world during the recession
Thursday, 20 May 2010
By Michelle Daley

There is substantial evidence that has shown that disabled people continue to remain the most poorest and disadvantaged groups globally. Regardless whatever commitments and some changes that have been made to improve the life chances of disabled people by government and other institutions. We still continue to experience inequality and unfair treatment in all areas of mainstream activities. The effects of the recession not only compound the situation it has also been devastating and destructive to the lives of far too many disabled people.

Let us take a look at the situation that we face today. The reality is:

  • We have poverty
  • We have cuts in public sector services this includes: Health, Social Care and Education
  • We have increase charges in services
  • We have barriers to employment
  • We have loss of jobs
  • We have tightening to local authority eligibility criteria’s (FACS)
  • We have reforms in benefits (Welfare reform) thus reduced the numbers of people eligible for incapacity benefits
  • Business are less likely to invest in making their services accessible

But also we have a change in Government which creates uncertainty because disabled people are unsure whether they will or how they will address the needs of us within their agendas to overcome the recession.

The recession has impacted on many factors in the labour marker. For example:

  • Closure of many Disabled Peoples Organisations  – many disabled people had relied on Disabled Peoples Organisations for employment, voluntary work and training this has created a gap in the labour market for disabled people. These organisations provided valuable advocacy, advice and information to disabled people as well as campaign for our rights.
  • Reluctance of many of the mainstream establishments, private or otherwise to employ or contract disabled people.
  • Disabled people are regarded as costly or a drain to many organisations
  • Inappropriate sickness monitoring and other similar performance monitoring is used which results in discriminatory practises
  • Disabled people with high support needs or access needs are less likely to be employed and more likely to lose their jobs.

All of these issues create a vicious cycle resulting in poverty and in the worse case we can become voiceless.

As I have said in many of my speeches that the situation for disabled people from minority groups is they are more likely to be further disadvantaged by the impact of the recession because of the different forms and types of discriminatory practices.

What does this mean for disabled people?

  • The recession has been used as a legitimate justification to exclude disabled people
  • The recession has been used as a legitimate justification to get around equality laws
  • We are more likely live on the cliff edge because of cuts in public services
  • The absence of DPOs results in weakening of political leaders to empower and liberate us.

This is a sad but true reality that the recession has had a ripple effect on all areas of our lives in health, social care, education and employment.

The recession has further segregated us from the realms of our society. It has been said many times before but the reality is the recession should not be but it is used to discriminate against disabled people.


I continue to say and will continue to repeat that is disability issues must be recognised as a human rights issue and that we must be part of the agenda to tackle the recession.    

Positive and real change can only be achieved with our inclusion.