Nearly half of disabled people feel forgotten by political parties, new research finds 

  • Ahead of the General Election on 4 July, the national disability charity Sense found nearly half (47 per cent) of disabled people in the UK feel they aren’t important to political parties, with one in four (26 per cent) not optimistic that life will improve for disabled people under a new government. 
  • Despite this, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of disabled people said they plan to vote, but nearly a quarter of those (21 per cent) are still undecided on who to vote for. 
  • Sense has published its ‘Plan for Change’, outlining seven key recommendations on how the next government can improve the lives of disabled people, who make up 24 per cent of the UK population. 

26 June 2024 – With just one week to go until the General Election, political parties appear to be fighting for every vote, but according to new research* by the national disability charity Sense, many disabled people feel they have been forgotten by our politicians. 

In a poll of 1,000 people with complex disabilities** in the UK, nearly half (47 per cent) said disabled people and the issues they face were not important to political parties. The same number claim politicians don’t do enough to engage disabled people to secure their vote. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, as many as one in four (26 per cent) said they were not optimistic that life would improve for disabled people under a new UK government. A third (33 per cent) believe their vote won’t make a difference to disabled people’s lives, which puts disabled people off voting.  

Despite this, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of disabled people say they still plan to vote, even though nearly a quarter of those (21 per cent) are yet to decide who to vote for. 

There are 16.1 million disabled people in the UK, making up 24 per cent of the UK population, and a disproportionate number live on a low income or in poverty. Disabled people experience long waiting periods for benefits eligibility decisions and are more likely to use resources such as food banks.  

The national disability charity Sense is calling for disabled people to be prioritised by the next UK government. They have produced a manifesto for political candidates, called ‘A Plan for Change’, outlining how the next government can improve the lives of disabled people, focusing on seven key recommendations: 

1.     Make sure disabled people can afford the essentials. 

2.     Fund social care so no disabled adult goes without support. 

3.     End the postcode lottery of social care for disabled children. 

4.     Give every disabled child equal access to education. 

5.     Make the benefits system work for disabled people. 

6.     Tackle barriers to work. 

7.     Always have a senior Minister for Disabled People. 

Sense Chief Executive, Richard Kramer, said: 

“It’s a disgrace that disabled people, and the societal inequalities they face, have received so little attention by politicians during the election campaign. 

“It’s unsurprising, then, that so few disabled people believe that life will improve under a new UK government. 

“But it must improve. The pandemic and the subsequent cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated many of the problems that disabled people and their families already faced.  

“Disabled people are struggling to pay for essentials like food and energy. The social care sector, which so many depend on, is in crisis, and the welfare system is in urgent need of reform. 

“Whoever forms the next UK government must show disabled people that they do matter to them.” 

Case study: 

Pictured – Mohammed Azeem (right) with support worker Caz Smith (left) 

Mohammed Azeem, 39, from Smethwick, West Midlands, is visually impaired. He first voted in the 2005 general election, as soon as he was old enough, and has voted in every election since. A former party member, he says that political parties aren’t listening to disabled people, and for the first time is considering not voting. 

Mohammed said: 

“I’ve been voting for so many years and it hasn’t made any difference or brought any change. Even if I do vote, it won’t make a difference. 

“Political parties are doing their thing but when it comes to us or listening to our views, nothing gets done. 

“Disabled people need to be part of manifestos. At the moment, we’re not being heard, and change isn’t happening.” 

More than ten thousand people have now signed Sense’s ‘Plan for Change’, which the charity is taking to political candidates. 

For more information visit: www.sense.org.uk/  

ENDS 

References: 

*The research was conducted by Censuswide, on behalf of Sense, who surveyed 1,001 people with complex disabilities across the UK between 11.06.2024 to 13.06.2022. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.   

**People with complex disabilities tend to have multiple disabilities that make it harder for them to learn new skills, communicate or live independently. There are 1.6million people with complex disabilities living in the UK. Sense conducts annual research into their experiences: www.sense.org.uk/information-and-advice/for-professionals/policy-public-affairs-and-research/potential-and-possibility-research/  

Contact Sense’s media team

Email: [email protected]
Phone number: 0203 833 0611