What did the 2021 budget do for disabled people?
Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They make up six out of ten deaths attributed to the virus and are also, it seems, more likely to be made redundant than non-disabled people.
According to the ONS report 'Coronavirus and redundancies in the UK labour market: September to November 2020', of the employees recorded as being disabled in the period July-Nov 2020, 21.1 per thousand were made redundant. Looking at the employees who were not disabled, 13.0 per thousand were made redundant.
Another kicker is that disabled people on legacy benefits (ESA/JSA) haven't had the £20 uplift that UC claimants have had. So, while it's good to hear the Chancellor extend the uplift to September, there are still more than a million people without this support.
And, while the charity Scope expressed approval of the extension of furlough, their calls for disabled people who are shielding to receive an automatic right to furlough were not addressed.
Following on from Rishi Sunak's announcement, Labour leader Kier Starmer criticised the budget for a number of reasons, commenting that "although the Chancellor spoke for almost an hour, we heard nothing about a long-term plan to fix social care".
He also argued that the budget should have had a credible plan to tackle unemployment, pointing out that the Kickstart scheme is only helping one in 100 eligible young people.
Some positive news from the budget came in the form of the Chancellor's announcement that funding to support survivors of the thalidomide scandal will be extended (it was due to run out in 2023) and assuring them of a "lifetime commitment".
The budget may have had its bright spots, but it will have left many disabled people, their friends, and family members disappointed, and feeling that they have, yet again, been overlooked. And objectively, it's hard to argue otherwise.