Independent living for disabled people is in reverse, six years on from a government strategy to deliver improved choice and opportunity, a damning report has concluded.
Across social care, income, work opportunities and access to services, there has been “no evidence of significant progress” in disabled people’s experiences since the independent living strategy was published by the last Labour government in 2008.
The strategy set a five-year goal to give disabled people more choice and control over the provision of support for daily living and to make significant progress in reducing barriers to opportunities and access to employment, transport, health and housing.
Last week’s report, by longstanding disability researcher and campaigner, Jenny Morris, was published by campaigning charity Disability Rights UK and funded by In Control, the charity that developed the concept of self-directed support. It found:
- In 2008, 24% of disabled people reported that they did not frequently have choice and control in their lives, rising to 26% in 2011, according to Office for Disability Issues figures;
- In 2012-13, 32% of social care service users reported having as much control as they want over their daily life, up slightly from the 30% figure for 2010-11, collected through annual Health and Social Care Information Centre statistics;
- Forty five per cent of disabled people were in work in 2013, compared with 77% of people without any health condition, and there has been no lowering of the employment gap since 2010 (Department for Work and Pensions figures).
One area of progress was the increase in the proportion of social care service users receiving personal budgets, which rose from 38.3% to 51% for people of working-age, and from 45.2% to 57.9% for people aged over 65, from 2011-12 to 2012-13. The National Personal Budgets Survey, carried out by In Control and Lancaster University, found that service users generally reported better outcomes after moving from traditionally-commissioned care to personal budgets.
However, last week’s report said that “common anecdotal evidence” showed that councils were not implementing personal budgets in line with good practice, by restricting how they are used and placing onerous auditing requirements on disabled people who use them.