The leading think tank for the north of England has today published research shining a light on how multiple injustices are having a disproportionate impact on disabled northerners.
Today’s analysis tells a story of people being failed on access to vital services like social care, being supported into work, and even having the opportunity to live a good life free from unhappiness, dissatisfaction and anxiety.
Researchers at IPPR North found that working age northerners with a long-term care need see less spent on social care than their counterparts across the country. Long term social care expenditure is £2,736 per person lower in the North than across England as a whole. While England sees £23,990 per person annually, the North receives just £21,254 per person. The North East sees the lowest spending of all England’s regions at £18,690 per person, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber at £20,251 per person. Key causes of this inequality include the lack of an equitable and sustainable funding settlement for social care, and the disproportionate impact that austerity and local government funding has had on local authorities in regions like the North.
IPPR North also found that disabled northerners are often missing out on the opportunity to live a good life. On wellbeing and mental health, disabled people in the North East have the lowest happiness and life satisfaction levels, and among the highest levels of anxiety of anywhere in the country.
Meanwhile, on support to work, disabled northerners are also experiencing significant challenges. People with disabilities in the region are less likely to be employed than the England average. These inequalities continue within work, with disabled people in the North East seeing the second highest disability pay gap outside of London.
The report authors say that these and other injustices, including regional inequalities which northerners experience the sharp end of, are interacting with each other and being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with unacceptable consequences for disabled people. They have been joined by people with disabilities from across the North to call on all policymakers who seek to ‘build back better’ to put justice and equality for disabled people at the heart of their plans. They say that policymakers must ensure that they are part of a decision-making process that creates the opportunity for everyone to live a good life.
Report co-author and senior research fellow at IPPR North, Erica Roscoe said:
“National policy in the UK has failed to protect people who need it most. For decades, disabled people across the country have found themselves disproportionately affected by multiple inequalities including our undervalued and under resourced social care system, and our alarming regional divides. Now, during the pandemic those injustices are deepening. This is bad news for everyone, whether disabled people or not.
“If policymakers are to succeed in building back better – and avoid a return to the status quo of widening inequalities – they must reflect on how and why people with a disability have been failed. It’s time to act with significantly more ambition and resource than we have seen in the recent Disability Strategy.
“It is incumbent upon every single decision maker, from local councillors to the Prime Minister, to recognise the unique experiences of disabled people living in regions like the North. It’s time to ensure that disabled people have the opportunity to live a good life”.