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Scope Discrimination Survey


Deteriorating attitudes towards disabled people

New poll commissioned by Scope shows the alarming levels of discrimination disabled people face in daily life


Date Published: 14 May 2011

Categories: Health | Public and communities | Social | UK


• More than half of disabled people say they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition or impairment (56%)
• Half of disabled people say they experience discrimination on either a daily or weekly basis
• More than a third (37%) said people’s attitudes towards them have got worse over the past year.
• 58% of people thought others did not believe that they were disabled and 50% of people said they felt others presumed they did not work.

The majority of disabled people experience discrimination at least once a week – if not on a daily basis - and disabled people feel that public attitudes towards them have got worse over the past year according to a new poll published today.

The ComRes survey, commissioned by disability charity Scope, reveals that despite 41% of the British public saying that they have not witnessed discrimination against a disabled person; more than half of disabled people say they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition or impairment.

The poll also found that 58% of disabled people thought others did not believe they were disabled and half of disabled people feel others presume they are not working.

These figures come just days after thousands of disabled people and their families took to the streets of London to protest against spending cuts and welfare reform which will see up to 1.9million  people on incapacity benefits being tested for their fitness to work and could see cuts of up to 20% from Disability Living Allowance.

Overall the results indicate a worrying deterioration in attitudes towards disabled people which Scope believes could make it difficult for disabled people who have been migrated off benefits as part of the government’s welfare reforms, to actually get jobs and play their part in society.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope responded to the findings:

“Much of the welfare reform debate has focused on disabled people as benefit scroungers and many disabled people feel this has led to the public being more sceptical about disability issues and more hostile and those who receive welfare support.
“Ironically this backdrop of negativity will only make it harder for the million disabled people who will be migrated off benefits to actually get a job.
“The support disabled people receive from government enables them to overcome the barriers they face in daily life.

“However, recent government spending decisions look to be eroding away the very foundations of this support. Without it, disabled people will be unable to play their part in society, in the workplace, in shops, restaurants, offices and community spaces.
“It is visibility and increased familiarity in everyday life that challenges negative perceptions and attitudes towards disabled people. Unless disabled people can contribute to society, attitudes will continue to deteriorate and they risk being further excluded from society.”

• ComRes conducted an online survey of 2,050 GB adults between the 18th and 20th March 2011.  ComRes interviewed 533 disabled people between 21st February and 16th March 2011 online. Data was weighted to be representative demographically of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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