Keeping disability on the agenda in the credit crunch

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2009 National Disabled Members' Conference
1 July 2009
Carried as Amended

This Conference is concerned that the recession is having a disproportionately large impact on disabled workers. Unemployment is predicted to increase to almost three million by 2010 and disabled workers are particularly at risk when unemployment rises. Increased unemployment for disabled workers can lead to social divide, increase the prospect of discrimination due to unfair selection for redundancy, based perhaps on absence records, as well as from an even greater reluctance on the part of employers to meet their obligations towards disabled staff.

Conference notes that the credit crunch is already affecting a significant number of disabled people and their families. Disabled charities are experiencing an increased demand for financial assistance from families who can no longer afford to pay fuel bills, purchase specialist equipment, purchase home care or to take holidays for much needed respite.

Conference fears that funding crises in the NHS and Local Authorities will lead to cutbacks in services and increases in charges, which will impact heavily on disabled people using health and social care services.

Conference notes that a recent survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) stated that two thirds of councils reported a rising demand for welfare services, often from those with mental health disabilities. Adass stated that the lack of funding for vital services was placing disabled people at a greater risk of abuse. Problems were compounded by the closure of local voluntary organisations and the difficulty in finding job opportunities for disabled people.

In view of the above concerns Conference applauds the work of the NDMC that has already taken place and that this work continues with regular economic briefings from the Trades Union Congress that inform branches about the potential impact of the recession on UNISON’s disabled members.