Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1099/31266

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 September 2020

Capitalism cause of disproportionate disabled deaths and isolation

  (Click to enlarge)

Gareth Bromhall, Socialist Party disabled people and carers group

Covid-19 has disproportionately hit disabled people. This is one of the effects of capitalist society, which is disabling, and puts profit before lives, including of the people it disables.

Around one-fifth of the population of England and Wales has its "activities limited because of a health problem or disability" to some degree. But this group has represented almost three-fifths of official Covid deaths!

These figures are from the Office for National Statistics, for March to May, released earlier this summer. The analysis in that report found the mortality rate for the most disabled men was 1.9 times higher, and women 2.4 times higher, than those with no disability.

An earlier ONS report confirmed what had been apparent to everyone as the Covid crisis developed: disabled people living in care homes are particularly vulnerable. 29% of all deaths in care homes have been officially attributed to Covid. The most common pre-existing condition here was Alzheimer's/dementia.

England's health service regulator CQC has also published findings that show a 136% increase in deaths of people with learning difficulties since 2019. Of those extra deaths, a majority were in residential care.

These studies and their findings will not come as a shock to disabled people and carers. We have suffered a decade of attacks on our wellbeing, and indeed our life expectancy, through austerity. These also make us more susceptible to Covid-19.

Cuts to local services, access to grants and disability benefits have had a huge effect on the lives of disabled people and carers. Charities and third-sector organisations are often left trying to plug huge gaps where they can. The current economic crisis and its threat of further austerity will only make this worse.

Lasting effects

On top of the coronavirus death rates for disabled people, the effect of the virus on our lives will be far-reaching and multifaceted.

In 2019, just over half of all disabled people were in employment, compared to 88% of the working-age population as a whole. The endless onslaught of redundancies and job losses means that in a job market not designed to accommodate us, disabled jobseekers face an even greater challenge.

There are studies ongoing to find the long-term effects of Covid in general, and lockdown in particular, on the mental health of disabled people.

Pre-Covid there were estimates that up to 40% of people with a learning disability also suffered from a mental illness. This number was higher for autistic people, and Public Health England has acknowledged the likely effects of the experience of the pandemic on these groups.

The capitalist system, and the neoliberal agenda that has been its status quo for decades, leave barriers in front of those who aren't sufficiently 'productive' of profits. However, the crisis has meant, for example, a significant amount of office-based work being done from the employee's home. Remote working has become the new norm for many companies.

While enforced remote working has both positives and negatives for workers, it has apparently led to higher productivity for the bosses. But the right to work remotely is something disabled activists have long been fighting for. Until it became a necessity for profit, most bosses regarded it as unreasonable.

Likewise, there are many practical adaptations and allowances that employers and services could make to allow disabled people to live fuller, more independent lives - in and out of the home and workplace.

Technology now allows for physical adaptations to the workplace, and useful aids, adapted systems of work, and different ways of accessing resources. These could make the lives of disabled people a lot easier. But they aren't implemented - because they cut into the profits of the capitalists.

This is how we, as disabled people, are disabled by capitalist society. It's a society that is built with profit as its ultimate goal. It does not prioritise adaptations and attitudes that would allow disabled people to contribute more fully to society, and lead more equal, independent - and healthy - lives.

The trade unions must take up the fight for the right to more adaptations and allowances for disabled people. The changes forced on us by the pandemic hint at what's possible. But ultimately, if the capitalists continue to control the economy, these reforms will not last and society will continue to disable us.

A socialist programme to transform society must include:


Disabled during Covid: "It's as if we don't exist"

Vikki Walton-Cole, disabled members' officer, Unison union Surrey (personal capacity)

Disabled people often shop online as this is the safest, and sometimes only, option. As a part-time wheelchair user, I can tell you first-hand of the difficulties, especially with pandemic measures. It seems that the Equality Act and disabled access have been forgotten and ignored in the rush to reopen society post lockdown.

On a recent shopping trip I found disabled toilets supposedly in use, but actually blocked off by cones, with no soap or toilet roll. I found shops where the ramp doesn't quite meet the door, and yes, this meant I was stuck in the doorway, half in and half out.

Shops have one-way systems that have not left enough room for wheelchairs (or prams) to manoeuvre. And please tell me how I get my wheelchair in, down a flight of steps, as the ramp is out only?

Yet more shops have decided that social distancing means they will only allow one of the double doors to open - but many wheelchairs need wider entrances and both doors to open. Some shops have locked them shut, which prevents wheelchair users entering, with no staff nearby to unlock. I was physically prevented from entering.

Access fail after access fail while going around shops - and this is not new to Covid-19 life. Some shops have removable ramps, but no way of alerting the shop that you're outside and need to use it, even after emailing in advance.

There are many more barriers for some disabled people - such as sensory barriers from noise, lighting and smells. Very few shops, I believe, have loop systems for hearing aid users, never mind how few people can use British Sign Language. Then there's mental health barriers that can make it near-impossible to go shopping or even leave home.

Add all these barriers together, and many disabled people shop online as it's infinitely easier. But earlier this year, Rishi Sunak was considering a tax on online shopping to help the high street.

Clearly bosses would pass the tax onto consumers. That sounds like a tax on disabled people to me. Our cost of living is already higher - by thousands of pounds per year. Many disabled people already go without essential items due to cost.

According to Scope's 2019 Disability Price Tag report, the average additional costs faced by disabled people were 583 per month! A new tax on one of the few things that we can easily access, online shopping, could push this even higher.

With access to benefits and services a postcode lottery at best in austerity Britain, how are the majority of disabled people expected to absorb these costs? Personal Independence Payment, the main disability benefit, is an absolute joke, with many still refused what little we are entitled to.

Less than a third of new claims are approved, and so many are forced to go to tribunal to get what we are entitled to. Around three-quarters of tribunals are successful. The stress of trying to claim benefits - and reclaim them every two to three years - is astronomical. Yet still they do not meet the additional costs of disability!

The Equality Act offers very little actual protection or rights to disabled people, and a lot of protection to employers and businesses if they can prove they have made some sort of 'attempt'. This is about penalising people who sometimes cannot work, cannot work full-time, or are in lower-paid jobs - the disability pay gap is very real.

The lack of any attempt to continue adhering to the Equality Act for businesses and employers during these current times demonstrates the disregard and weakness of the act.

Disabled people are being penalised even more, and those in power don't even consider how this might affect us. It's as if we don't exist, we shouldn't exist, or at best, we are an afterthought.

We want equal rights in law, we want to be included, and we want access.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 2 September 2020:


News

Tory schools chaos - unions must fight for safety

Eviction ban extension not enough: make it longer, forgive the arrears!

Don't blame asylum seekers for Tory cuts

News in brief


Disability and Covid

Capitalism cause of disproportionate disabled deaths and isolation


No going back series

Welfare after Covid-19


Workplace news

Demand a fightback from the TUC and unions

Tate strike: "Coronavirus - no reason to fire us!"

B&Q worker reinstated: Organised response successfully challenges unfair dismissal

West Midlands journalists strike against pay and job cuts

Support Ikea workers - reinstate Richie Venton

London bus drivers poised for strike action


Join the socialists

Socialism on the rise


International

Fight racism, Trump and capitalism

Mass protests in Israel demand Netanyahu's resignation

Trotsky online rally - watched across the world


Campaigns

No Covid penalty on our future

Black Lives Matter: Fighting injustice, fighting for our rights

Nottingham: Socialists and anti-racists oppose right-wing march

No to polluting incinerator, dumped in working-class Edmonton

Scrap hospital parking charges

Liverpool: Support 15% pay rise for NHS

Lincoln: Save Drill Hall

Fundraising: An example to follow


Reviews

TV: Once Upon a Time in Iraq

Manctopia: billion pound property boom


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 September 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Disability:

triangleCall for an increase in PIP due to Covid-19

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: Disability rights and socialism

triangleTories out. Scrap Universal Credit. Fight for living wages and welfare!

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Disabled:

triangleDisabled students let down by "rotten education system"

triangleFilm: 'Sick' - 'They've got people looking in the wrong direction'

triangleStep forward for campaign to reverse mobility pass cuts in Nottingham

triangleSouth Yorkshire Freedom Riders - still battling on

Capitalism:

triangleWorld capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now

triangleAre cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?

triangleNon-fiction: 'Why I no longer talk to white people about race'

Covid:

triangleAction on Covid transmission in schools now

triangleLockdown: suspicion and anger

US:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: The US presidential election

Mental health:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Mental health and socialism

Coronavirus:

triangle'Firebreak' lockdown fails to protect workers

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

14/10/20

Capitalist

Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?

14/10/20

Schools

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

14/10/20

Coronavirus

Locked down, hard up - Fight back!

14/10/20

Labour

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour

14/10/20

Higher Education

"It's not fair" - lockdown students demand free education

14/10/20

Nottingham

Nottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

14/10/20

Schools

As school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

14/10/20

Coronavirus

Under the microscope

14/10/20

National Education Union

National Education Union must launch action now

14/10/20

Students

Students not to blame for unsafe uni conditions

7/10/20

Socialism

Worldwide capitalist crisis deepens

7/10/20

Coronavirus

Massive testing 'glitch' caused by privatised fragmentation

7/10/20

Asylum

Fight for jobs and homes for all - defend the right to asylum

7/10/20

Tories

Tories put profit first: Gambling with our jobs and lives

7/10/20

Covid

Under the microscope

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999