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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 17:43 GMT
Report audits disabled inequality
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website age & disability correspondent

Photo of John Hutton at the 2006 Disablism Summit
John Hutton says a step-change is needed
A report by two disability charities is the first comprehensive attempt to quantify the inequalities experienced by disabled people in the UK.

Called Disablist Britain, the report was written by the Demos think-tank for the charities Scope and Disability Awareness in Action.

It says 40% of disabled people have difficulty with travel, and 375,000 do not have the adapted housing they need.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton demanded a "step-change in attitudes".

Mr Hutton, who attended the launch, said meeting the needs of disabled people should be seen as an opportunity.

"Disabled people themselves must never be consigned to accepting second best, but empowered and supported to achieve full equality of opportunity and genuine independence and respect," he said.

Barriers

The Demos report looked in detail at transport, education, employment, status, leisure and housing.

It was found that more than 40% of disabled people in England and Wales experienced difficulty with travel.

While almost two-thirds of households that include a disabled person do not have access to a private car, only 27% of non-disabled households don't have a car.

But the general trend in public transport shows an improvement, though in the words of the authors, "massive barriers remain".

The report describes the lack of accessible housing in the UK as "chronic".

While it is estimated that nearly 1.5m people require adapted accommodation, almost a quarter of them don't have it.

The report highlights a lack of reliable information about the availability of accessible housing as contributing to the problem.

And it says that research conducted by John Grooms housing association estimated that the UK needed a further 300,000 wheelchair-accessible homes.

Inhumanity

As regards status, the report says that disabled people are more likely to be the victims of hate crimes or mercy killings, but less likely to appear on television or occupy a prominent role in public life.

Last year, for example, two court cases concluded that the killing of a disabled person was an act of mercy rather than murder.

In both cases, the defendants received non-custodial sentences.

"It's not just about man's inhumanity to man - which is bad enough - it's about man's inhumanity to disabled people which is horrendous," said Rachel Hurst, director of Disability Awareness in Action.

According to Scope chief executive Tony Manwaring, the point of the exercise was to quantify the levels of inequality with a view to creating a strategy to tackle them.

"There's a much better chance of shaping the policy agenda so that barriers are overcome and so that disabled people, whatever their impairment, will be able to enjoy equality."




SEE ALSO:
Disability plan to cut inequality
19 Jan 05 |  UK Politics


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