The Office for National Statistics has produced the first round of real data regarding coronavirus. The results are shocking and, even more shockingly, are not making the news. Two thirds of all covid-related deaths in the UK between February and June were deaths of disabled people. That’s 22,000 disabled people.
I did not write that down wrong; 2/3 of all UK coronavirus-related deaths were deaths of disabled people. Have you seen this on the news anywhere? Me neither.
The end of shielding?
The government has announced the end of its shielding programme. Instructions between now and then are, as usual, vague, and, of course, impossible to practice for most people.
Some communities are happy to have the rules lifted so that people who have faced invisibility over the last few months can feel more confident to get out and take part – safely – in the community.
One of the key concerns is what exactly the August 1st ‘cut-off’ date for the government’s shielding programme means for disabled and chronically ill people in terms of work, employment and benefits. During the announcement, officials were asked directly whether there would be any legislation put in place to ensure that employers make relevant adjustments in order to keep their disabled employees employed, otherwise vulnerable people will be the first to suffer from budget cuts, redundancies and invisibility within organisations. Hancock confirmed there was nothing like this in place. Perhaps more worrying was the continued absence of The Equality Act 2010 from either side in this conversation; the legislation many of us hold onto while we wave our Access To Work forms around, trying to remind everyone that accessibility aims to level the playing field, not give us our own, separate one.
Oh, and to add salt to the wound, the government have announced that benefits sanctions have been brought back into place.
Disabled audiences – Act 2
The results of a survey sent out to theatre audiences, mailing lists and organisations nationwide have now been published. 4000 disabled audience members responded.
The key headline finding is that 26% of disabled audience members will not consider returning to the theatre at all until a vaccine or treatment for coronavirus is available. In addition, 77% of disabled audiences consider themselves to be “vulnerable to Coronavirus” whilst only 28% of non-disabled audiences do.