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'Cost of living crisis is costing disabled people more'

Greater Manchester Disabled People's Panel's latest meeting.

Disabled people say the cost of living crisis is costing them more than most.

Higher heating requirements, specific food needs and powered wheelchairs contribute to bigger bills for disabled people as inflation reaches record highs.

It comes after austerity and the pandemic each left many disabled people worse off with benefits cut and Covid leaving some lacking vital services.

Members of the Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Panel, which is made up of 15 organisations, are now collecting more data to ‘create real change’.

The ‘pioneering’ group, which is also helping to design more accessible buses in Greater Manchester, was set up to help influence policy in the city-region.

Building on work during the pandemic which saw nearly 1,000 responses from disabled people in Greater Manchester help tackle digital exclusion, a new survey has been launched to identify issues caused by the cost of living crisis.

Panel co-chair Michele Scattergood said the survey is ‘lifting the lid’ on the impact the cost of living is having on disabled people to ‘make things better’.

Rick Burgess, from the Greater Manchester Coaltion for Disabled People, who is also a member of the panel, said the survey will help drive the group’s work.

He said: “This is putting fuel in our vehicle which delivers that change.

“We find out what the problems are, where they are and then we go and solve them.”

The new survey, which was launched on June 28, is targeted at any disabled people who live or work across Greater Manchester and specifically aims to find out their attitudes and feelings towards the current cost of living crisis.

It builds on the 2020 survey from the panel, which saw nearly 1,000 disabled people in Greater Manchester share their views on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings of the last survey, in which 90 pc of respondents said that the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health, has helped the panel to apply pressure to decision makers about the services available to them.

The 2020 survey also raised issues with digital exclusion during the pandemic when much of the emergency response relied on using digital platforms and ultimately helped to develop Greater Manchester’s work on digital inclusion.

The new survey focuses on the challenges of the current cost of living.

Shabaaz Mohammed, from Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “We’re trying to show that if we’re given the right support, we can do the right thing.

“Greater Manchester is actually doing something unique and pioneering. We’re collecting this data to create real change.”

The results of the 2022 survey will help influence policy with the aim of making Greater Manchester a better place for disabled people to live in.

Its insights will hopefully help shape services and provision in the future.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: “The Disabled People’s Panel have been resolute champions for the rights of disabled people in Greater Manchester, representing their voices and their concerns as our city-region has tackled the challenges of recent years.

“As we face up to this perilous cost-of-living crisis, it’s vital that we understand its far-reaching consequences for all of our communities, and how we can respond.

“With their Big Disability Survey 2022, the Disabled People’s Panel are renewing their commitment to listen to what matters to disabled people here, and making sure those voices are heard right at the heart of decision-making.”

Oldham council leader Amanda Chadderton, who is the Greater Manchester lead for Equality, Inclusion and Cohesion, added: “We’re all feeling the pressures that come with the rising cost of living, but how we experience those pressures will vary greatly across different communities.

“Throughout the pandemic the Disabled People’s Panel gave a powerful voice to our disabled residents, representing their concerns and their calls for change.

“More than 900 people responded to their last survey in 2020, and once again we want to make sure that everyone has a chance to share their experiences and aspirations so that we can make this a better, fairer city-region for everyone.”

The panel is encouraging people to complete the survey in whichever way suits them, with postal, BSL and in-person support available if people need it.

To complete the survey online, visit www.gmbigdisabilitysurvey.com.

For more information, visit the website at gmdisabledpeoplespanel.com or watch the BSL video about the survey at https://youtu.be/bEOoGKxD9Eo 

For support completing the survey, email panel@gmcdp.com or text or call 07367 754595.

Alternatively, written responses can be sent to:
GMCDP, Unit 4
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
Manchester
M16 7WD

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