5 things to watch out from the new Government

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

So we have a majority Conservative government! Now the dust has settled on last week’s election results, we’ve looked into our crystal balls and picked out five things to watch out for from our new Government.

1) Education spending. In their manifesto, the Conservatives said they will protect funding for schools on a per pupil basis. This means that, if the number of pupils go up, schools shouldn’t lose out. But it also means that schools might get less money in real terms if inflation goes up. It also means that funding for early years education and post-16 is not protected. So what impact will this have on spending for specialist education services for deaf children? We know from the NDCS Stolen Futures campaign that local authorities have still been cutting services, despite the protection already in place over the past five years. Will that change?

2) Will Ofsted inspections make a difference? We know that Ofsted are planning to inspect local provision for children with special educational needs and that a consultation on how they will do that is due out later this year. What’s not yet certain is the extent to which Ofsted will take a proper, more focused look on how deaf children are doing as part of this. Will Ofsted, for example, inspect specialist education services for deaf children? Indications are that Ofsted are not keen to go into this level of detail. We may need to campaign to make sure they do. We may also need to campaign to make sure that inspections are carried out by inspectors with proper expertise in deafness.

3) Is Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for deaf children under threat? The Conservatives have indicated in the past they would like to look at reforms to DLA for disabled children, having already changed DLA for adults to a new benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The Conservatives have already pledged to reduce the welfare budget by £12bn, without specifying how they will do that.

4) Audiology services. How can we make sure that audiology services are delivering a good service? Our Listen Up! campaign has found that too many aren’t. Over the past 5 years, it was the government’s policy that audiology services should be accredited under a programme called IQIPs. Yet, to our knowledge, very few have to date. What will happen to those audiology services that don’t get accredited or don’t seek accreditation anytime soon? Will the new Government insist they be closed down or will they just allow poor audiology services to coast along? Will they improve transparency over which audiology services are seeking accreditation?

5) How will the Government halve the disability employment gap? This was one of their manifesto pledges. NDCS believes that many deaf young people will need support from Access to Work to make a successful transition into employment. However, we know that the Government are looking at ways to manage the Access to Work budget, with a new cap to be introduced later this year. Will this make it harder for the Government to support disabled people into employment?

Is there anything else we should be watching out for? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

The NDCS policy and campaigns team will be working to get answers to these questions. You can help us campaign for a world without barriers for every deaf child by joining our cool club, the NDCS campaigns network today.

What are the parties promising to do on welfare and disabled rights?

NDCS - Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research

Our final blog on the election manifestos takes a look at what the parties across the UK are promising around welfare and rights for disabled people.

Disability Living Allowance
An earlier blog talked about how Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have been replaced by Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for those over 16 and our fears that a large number of deaf young people will see their benefits cut as PIP is rolled out. One of our big concerns is that any new Government will make similar changes to DLA for those under 16. This could result in many deaf children and their families losing out.

The SNP and the Green party are the only parties to specifically mention DLA / PIP in their manifestos. The SNP in Scotland have said that they will reverse the changes to DLA and the £3bn cutback to disability spending. And the Green party have said they will increase the budget for DLA / PIP.

Plaid Cyrmu in Wales make no specific commitments on DLA or PIP but their manifesto states they oppose further ‘austerity’ more generally.

The Liberal Democrats have made a general commitment to “limit welfare reductions”. Separately, they have also said that they will invest to clear any backlog in waiting times for assessments for DLA and PIP.

The Labour party have said they will cap structural social security spending. And the Conservatives have said they will cut the welfare budget by £12bn. As yet, neither party has given any detailed information on how they will do this so it remains unclear if disability benefits for children are at risk of being cut.

UKIP make no specific pledges on disability benefits for children but their manifesto indicates they wish to reduce government spending overall.

NDCS is calling on the Government to rule out any cuts or narrowing of eligibility criteria to welfare support for disabled children.

Support in work
Many deaf young people rely on Access to Work for support in employment. None of the manifestos indicate whether they will keep or ditch the cap on Access to Work payments announced by the Government just before the election. However, both the Green party and the Liberal Democrats have said they will do more to promote the Access to Work scheme. The Liberal Democrats also say they will streamline back to work assessments for disabled people – working towards a single assessment and benefit. They will also encourage employers to shortlist any qualified disabled candidate and provide advice about adaptations in the workforce.

Labour have said they will introduce a specialist support programme to provide disabled people with tailored help on moving into employment. It’s not yet clear how this will sit alongside the Access to Work scheme.

The Conservatives have said they are aiming to halve the disability unemployment rate.

Plaid Cyrmu state they will provide greater opportunities for disabled people to find jobs across Wales through proposals for a new Welsh job search service. They also pledge to involve disabled people and groups in designing any new Welsh employment and benefits system that supports individuals to find suitable jobs.

The UKIP manifesto states that they want any assessments for disability work benefits to be done by GPs or relevant specialists, rather than companies like ATOS.

Rights for disabled people
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to formally recognise British Sign Language as an official language of the United Kingdom.

Both UKIP and the Green party express support for the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities in their manifestos, with the Green party saying they will ensure it is enforced in law.

The Labour party has also said they will ensure that disabled people have a voice at the heart of government inviting disabled people to sit on cross-departmental committee that develops disability policy

The above is a very general summary of the pledges and we’ve only highlighted those that we think are most directly relevant to deaf children. We’ve included links to the manifestos above if you’d like more information about what each of the parties are proposing. More information about the manifestos from the Northern Ireland parties can be found on the BBC website.

Don’t forget, if you want to find out more about what the parties are proposing, you can ask your prospective parliamentary candidates. They need your vote and hopefully will be responsive to any questions you might have! Ask your candidates what they know about deaf children and call on them to protect the services that they rely on in the next Parliament.

The Your Next MP website has information on the candidates in your area and our website has more information on the election, including a detailed election factsheet.