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Coronavirus: People with disabilities are afraid of losing their jobs

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A quarter of people with disabilities surveyed by a major charity fear losing their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey by Scope found that many people with disabilities fear that their employer may not make their workplace safe to return to.

The disability equality campaign wants the government to prioritize people with disabilities in its recovery plans.

The government says it is committed to helping people with disabilities return to work.

About 30,000 people have signed a letter to the prime minister.

Field says people with disabilities have been “hit hardest” by the pandemic.

She asked 874 adults with a health problem or disability who are at work about their views on returning to work.

She found that 41% feel worried about returning to work, while almost half are worried about using public transportation to get to their place of work.

87% fear that others will not respect the rules of social distancing, putting them at risk.

Figures released by the ONS in July showed that two-thirds of those who had died from the coronavirus were disabled.

Open letter

Open letter, addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, points to “an imminent recession and people with disabilities at the sharp end of poverty” and urges the government to “take urgent action”.

With his poll showing 59% of people with disabilities feel forgotten by the government during the pandemic, the charity says the effect is “doing its thing”.

He says people with disabilities and their families have “proportionately faced loneliness and deteriorating mental health”.

“The shield may be on pause, but for millions of people with disabilities there is no pause button on their anxieties,” the letter says.

Difficulties of social distancing

Steven Morris, who is blind and has a hearing impairment, is worried about how he will return to work as a charity and campaigning officer.

He needs “a lot of support when he’s out of my house,” so he’s particularly anxious during trips.

He explains: “I need instruction to be able to ride on trains.

“While I know the staff are supposed to help with this, with the proper precautions, I have heard a number of staff accounts who have not been aware of this and refuse to help due to the demands of social distance,” he says. .

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Steven Morris

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Steven Morris worries about how being blind will affect his ability for social distance.

He is also concerned about other passengers, pointing out “the attitudes I may encounter from other members of the public if I inadvertently enter their space”.

Because he cannot see, he relies on other people to keep their distance and worries that if this does not happen he will endanger his health as well as his colleagues.

He says he is unlikely to return to office until the rules of social distancing are relaxed.

“I do not feel the government is taking my concerns into account as a person with a disability,” says Steven.

“I’m concerned that pushing people back to their jobs could have a negative impact on people with disabilities.”

National Disability Strategy

The letter calls on people with disabilities to be included in “any plan and change in regulations to alleviate blockage from the beginning” and for the government to “prioritize the National Vital Disability Strategy”, ensuring that it provides a plan clear to mitigate existing inequalities, the pandemic has further increased. “

In the last Queen’s Speech, the government committed to publishing a strategy – which aims to improve access for people with disabilities to opportunities.

  • Get back to work ‘alarm bells’ for people with disabilities

The Alignment Letter underscores the Prime Minister’s commitment in early 2020 for government departments to act on the inequalities faced by people with disabilities.

“It’s vital now that the government gives that ambition,” she says.

“Economic recovery is essential, and people with disabilities need to be involved in this,” he says, including measures to help them get back to work.

“The commitment to address the disability employment gap set out in the Conservative manifesto must be upheld,” he says.

He stresses that not all those who were previously employed will be able to work in pandemic circumstances, and urges the government to “guarantee a safety net that supports rather than punishes” people with disabilities who are unemployed. .

“Before the coronavirus, life was difficult for people with disabilities and their families. The government’s recovery plan has forgotten people with disabilities and risks making their lives even tougher.

“An equal society should not treat millions of people with disabilities as a later thought,” the letter says.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor and Pensions said the government was committed to supporting people with disabilities to return to work safely and to ensure they “had a role in defining the strategy”. our future national “.

“Great efforts have been made by employers to make jobs safe from COVID and we want to see employers and employees discussing their work arrangement to ensure that individual needs are taken into account,” he said.

“We are publishing advice and guidance for people with disabilities, making available to local authorities $ 3.7 billion to help address pressures on local services including adult social care and promising $ 750 million to ensure that charities they can continue their vital work. ”

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