Nearly half of all people with disabilities believe attitudes towards them have worsened in the past year, a survey by disability charity Scope has found.
According to respondents, the main drivers for this change in attitude are people claiming disability benefits when they’re not disabled (87%) and negative media coverage about benefits recipients (84%). Also, that 73% experienced the assumption that they don’t work.
Meanwhile, 64% of disabled people have experienced aggression, hostility or name calling.
When asked what would have a positive effect on public attitudes, 87% said having more disabled people in the media would help, while 84% said greater public discussion of the issues facing disabled people could improve attitudes. More disabled politicians was cited by 79% as something that would help.
This follows a Scope survey from May 2011, which found that more than a third of disabled people felt they had noticed deterioration in the public’s attitude towards them over the past 12 months. In addition, 56% said they had experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition or impairment.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said: “It is absolutely shocking that in 2012 almost half of disabled people feel attitudes have got worse and many have experienced aggression, hostility or name calling from other people. Disabled people keep coming back to the same concern: benefit scroungers. They single out fraudsters. They are concerned about coverage.
They tell us strangers challenge them in the street about the support they claim.
“Yet fraudsters are a tiny minority of claimants.
“It is telling that these figures come as the Government continues to put the issue of weeding out illegitimate claimants at the heart of its welfare rhetoric.
“The facts and figures they release on welfare reform only tell half the story. Benefit fraud is rare – in fact more money goes unclaimed than is defrauded, and the new fitness for work test is shown to be failing miserably to accurately assess people’s likelihood of finding work.
“This backdrop of negativity will only make it harder for disabled people to overcome the many barriers they face when it comes to getting on with their lives.
“We want the Government to mark the games with a new approach to welfare: tell the whole story when it comes to stats; make fundamental changes to the work capability assessment and avoid repeating the same mistakes when it comes to the new assessment for personal independence payments.”