Public services top list of concerns in first ever poll of disabled voters

By staff writers
May 3, 2010

The most important issue for disabled people when deciding how to vote, is public services, according to the findings of a new ComRes / Scope poll published today.

The poll found considerable frustration among disabled people with all main political parties; with 88 per cent of those surveyed saying they felt that their views and opinions are not generally heard by politicians.

In the first ever poll of a new panel of disabled people, the most important issues were the benefits system and the NHS, with nearly four in ten disabled people selecting each of these issues (39 per cent), followed by social care (35 per cent).

In a stern warning to the political parties, more than two thirds of disabled people say the policies of political parties on disability issues would influence who they vote for.

There are approximately 10 million disabled people in Great Britain covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.

The ComRes survey marks the first dedicated panel of disabled people by a leading pollster. It is part of wider plans by Scope and ComRes to establish a new panel of disabled people who will be regularly consulted on public (policy) issues - in recognition of their growing influence as a key constituency.

Richard Hawkes, Scope’s Chief Executive, said: “This survey shows that when it comes to election time, disabled people have very different priorities to the rest of the electorate. As disabled people are more reliant on public services than the rest of the population, it is hardly surprising that benefits, health and social care services are key issues for them.

“We know there are deep concerns among disabled people that the services they rely on most will be seen as easy targets for cuts. This is a timely reminder to all politicians about just how important these support services are to disabled people.”

Andrew Hawkins, Chairman of ComRes, said: “This ground-breaking poll reveals that disabled people are at least as likely to want to exercise their right to vote as the public as a whole. But it is shocking to find that a significant number of disabled people face real barriers when trying to vote. It’s also clear that this group of voters should not be overlooked: their voting choices are heavily influenced by a party’s policies on disability and they feel they are being ignored by politicians.

“This survey is a real first in polling terms. With an estimated 10 million disabled people in the UK they are a key constituency that politicians cannot afford to ignore, yet their views are rarely taken into account. Our new panel of disabled people will mean that in future their voices are much louder in the wider debate on key public policy issues.”

Scope is running a campaign in the run-up to the general election - called Polls Apart - aimed at improving disabled people’s access to voting.


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