What will you do to address the chronic shortage of accessible and adaptable affordable housing and make sure that everyone has the right in legislation and in practice to a safe and suitable place to live?
Everyone deserves a decent home that they can afford and that meets their needs, and yet this simple ambition is getting further and further out of reach for many people. We recognise that more must be done to ensure that everyone has a home.
A Liberal Democrat Government will build more homes, increasing house-building to 300,000 a year by the end of the Parliament, and will ensure we have got the right type of homes to meet everyone’s needs. We will lift the borrowing cap for local councils to build homes and will make an extra £3 billion available to housing associations to build affordable homes.
However, it’s not just about building homes, private renters now make up a fifth of the population, and often have the most expensive and least secure living arrangements. This is particularly problematic for those with specific needs.
Liberal Democrats want to radically reform the private rented sector to make it cheaper, safer, and more accessible.
How will you challenge the negative perceptions held by some employers and Jobcentre staff to tackle the high unemployment rates amongst disabled people?
Negative perceptions amount to discrimination, and it is totally unacceptable that disabled people face discrimination in the workplace or in Jobcentres.
The Liberal Democrats want a tolerant open society that offers the same opportunities for everyone.
In practice this means we will review sanction procedures in Jobcentres, and we will work to get more employers engaged on the issue so that they work to remove barriers to employment.
Will you guarantee that there will always be a safety net that ensures a good standard of living for people who are unable to work or are finding it difficult to find suitable employment?
Yes. The mark of a tolerant society is ensuring everyone is looked after and treated with respect. In February, we fought to block the changes to Personal Independence Payments which the Conservatives were set on making. In our manifesto we commit to uprating working-age benefits at least in line with inflation, to increasing the Local Housing Allowance in line with average rents in an area, to scrapping the ‘bedroom tax’ and to replacing the discredited Work Capability Assessment with a better system run by local authorities.
We will also raise awareness of the Access to Work scheme and seek to expand it, and accelerate the roll-out of Individual Placement and Support.
Will you stop the wastage of time, money and energy for all involved that is annual reassessments of people with lifelong degenerative conditions?
The Liberal Democrats will ensure that those with lifelong and degenerative conditions receive the support they need. Once someone has been properly assessed as having a degenerative condition, it does not make sense to continue assessing them.
How will you increase people’s choice and control over how their care needs are met?
The Liberal Democrats have committed to adding a penny on income tax to pay specifically for health and social care. This will ensure there is far greater availability and choice of care for those who need it. Where we can we will always aim to increase choice in the system, and find ways to ensure individuals can take greater control of their care needs.
Do you oppose forced institutionalisation and what protections will you put in place for disabled people?
We do not support forced institutionalisation. A Liberal Democrat Government will be inclusive and ensure everyone in society has equal opportunities and choice over their own lives.
What will you do to tackle the rise in disability hate crime?
The Liberal Democrats take hate crime incredibly seriously. We will always speak out against hate crime and prejudice. In Government, we will send a strong message that disability hate crime cannot and will not be tolerated. This means we must ensure proper monitoring of incidents by police forces and other public authorities to show that individuals are held to account for their crimes.
Internationally, the Liberal Democrats will build on the Disability Framework for International Development which we published in Government. We will work to incorporate disability further into DFID’s humanitarian response work, particularly around sanitation and hygiene programmes, to ensure no one is left behind.
What will you do to make public transport truly accessible?
Affordable, accessible transport is vital for people with disabilities, not just get around, but so they can live full lives. Much more needs to be done to ensure transport is truly accessible and in Government we will work to make more stations wheelchair accessible and give wheelchair users priority over children’s buggies when space is limited on trains and buses.
We must ensure that the new provisions on discrimination by private hire vehicles and taxis are enforced and improve the legislative framework governing Blue Badges. We must also build on our successes in improving wheelchair access and ensure accessibility of public transport for people with other disabilities, including visual and auditory impairment.
What will you do to make Local Authorities more accountable in cases of maladministration against children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities?
As a party, we recognise the huge barriers that those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities already face. Authorities must always be held to account over maladministration and where this is not happening we will always take this incredibly seriously. Where your readers are facing this problem they can always ask their local MP for help.
By a Lib Dem Spokesperson