Disabled people are largely hidden in day-to-day life despite the public believing that they should be given a level-playing field of opportunity, a new poll shows.
In an opinion survey commissioned from ComRes by the charity Scope, 91 per cent of people stated that they believed disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Worryingly, nearly 40 per cent of people who are not disabled and do not have a disabled family member do not know any disabled people.
90 per cent of Britons have never had a disabled person to their house for a social occasion and only a fifth (21 per cent) have ever had the chance to work with a disabled colleague.
The results demonstrate that disabled people are already relatively invisible in daily life, says Scope.
Concern is also growing that the forthcoming Government spending cuts, which are likely to hit disabled people among the hardest, may end up pushing them into further social exclusion and even cut them out of society altogether.
The report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies ‘The distributional effect of tax and benefit reforms to be introduced between June 2010 and April 2014: a revised assessment' (Browne and Levell, 25/08/10) highlights the fact that 20 per cent of current recipients of DLA will lose their entitlement as part of the systems reform.
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of Scope, commented: “This is shocking evidence that shows that disabled people are still relatively invisible in day-to-day life. We are deeply concerned that the Government’s spending cuts will end up pushing disabled people even closer to the fringes of society."
He continued: “The Government needs to carry out a full impact assessment before making any cuts to ensure they understand the full consequences of reductions in critical support such as Disability Living Allowance and Incapacity Benefit. These form a vital lifeline for many disabled people and their families."
Hawkes continued,“Without fully understanding the nature of disabled people’s lives, or the impact these changes will have, the Government may find itself causing extreme distress and financial hardship to disabled people which could end up creating greater dependency on the state and an even greater demand on the public purse".
ComRes interviewed 2,030 British adults online between 20 and 22 August 2010. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults.
The leading disability charity Scope (http://www.scope.org.uk/ ) "believes disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else. We run services and campaigns with disabled people to make this happen. As a charity with expertise in complex support needs and cerebral palsy, we never set limits on potential."