Mayor’s record for disabled Londoners under scrutiny

transport accessLeading disability charities today warned that transport improvements for disabled Londoners could be put at risk because of funding cuts and reports of ticket office closure plans.

A new report released today assesses the Mayoral record on pledges to support disabled people in the capital. The report recognises that progress has been made this year but also calls on City Hall to do more to improve support for disabled Londoners across the capital.

Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD), the National Autistic Society (NAS) and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) jointly compiled the report. The charities hosted a hustings event during the election campaign in 2012 where all the candidates were questioned about their plans for disabled people.

Disabled Londoners were asked for their views on a range of subjects including access to transport, housing, health and jobs.

Key findings:

  • On transport, the report praises the Mayor for making major steps forward and congratulates him and TFL on their progress but emphasises that much more still needs to be done. Currently 12 boroughs offer no disability travel training at all and many others only have limited support.
  • On access, the report shows that improvements to accessibility of public transport networks have overwhelmingly been made to aid physical access. Much more needs to be done to train transport staff on the whole range of disabilities and particularly the barriers to accessing transport posed by hidden disabilities such as autism and mental health conditions.
  • On road crossings, urgent work needs to be carried out to make all crossings fully accessible for disabled people-229 still have no audible or tactile signals.
  • On health, the report calls for the Mayor to take a leading role in working with the NHS to improve training, equipment provision, advocacy and social care.
  • On employment, the report states it is vital the Mayor must focus on increasing job opportunities for disabled people who are still far less likely to be in work in the capital as non-disabled people.
  • On representation, the report states institutions remain remote for disabled Londoners and the Mayor needs to make changes to ensure he hears the voices of disabled people in the capital.
  • On housing the report highlights the need for more accessible and genuinely affordable housing to allow disabled Londoners to remain in their homes, maintain contact with families and take up job opportunities.

Leonard Cheshire Disability‘s Director of Corporate Affairs Shaun Williams said: “We are greatly encouraged with the progress the Mayor has made harnessing the impetus London 2012 gave the capital especially on transport. But much more still needs to be done and we are concerned that this momentum may now be in jeopardy with the Spending Review cuts to Transport for London’s budget.”

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society (NAS) said: “While the report shows that support for some people with disabilities in the capital is improving, those with hidden disabilities like autism are often still missing out.

“Autism affects a person’s ability to communicate with others and make sense of the world. They use routine and rules to help them manage, so coping with unexpected events like tube line closures can be confusing and even frightening. Most people with autism also have anxiety or sensory issues which can make travelling on crowded, loud and bright tube trains or buses extremely challenging.

“Simple adjustments like ensuring certain stations have ‘safe places’ where people with hidden disabilities such as autism, learning disabilities or mental health problems can go to reduce anxiety and get help planning their journeys can make all the difference. It is vital that the Mayor ensures that all people with disabilities, including those with hidden impairments, are fully supported to use and access public transport equally.”

Richard Holmes, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for London, said:

“RNIB is encouraged by the continued improvement in services for blind and partially sighted Londoners.  Our members gain hugely from the assistance offered by staff on the Underground which increases their sense of independence.  We urge the Mayor to continue to support this vital service and to continue to keep London an open and accessible place for people with sight loss.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries. Visit www.LCDisability.org

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