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Shaping future support

Make your contribution to the health and disability green paper consultation.

The health and disability green paper consultation,  asks those with lived experience how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions now and in the future.

The government consultation is open from now until Monday 11 October for individual responses or responses from disability groups, organisations and leading representative and bodies/charities such as the Spinal Injuries Association.

The five areas that the government are consulting on are as follows:

• Providing the right support
• Improving employment support
• Improving current services
• Re-thinking future assessments to support better outcomes
• Exploring ways to improve the design of the benefit system

The Spinal Injuries Association is the leading body representing the 60,000 spinal cord community in the UK, and the six people who sustain a spinal cord injury daily. It is clear from official data across Great Britain, but also from the lived experience of our community, that spinal cord injured people along with other disabled people face far greater barriers in accessing the social and economic factors which help keep us healthy and increase life expectancy.


In total seven million people in poverty are either a disabled person or live with a disabled person

When we look at barriers such as access to secure employment or suitable welfare support, the causes of these disparities are clear. Financial security is one of the social determinants of health that has a huge impact on our own wellbeing. However four million people with disabilities in the UK are living in poverty. In total, seven million people in poverty are either a disabled person or live with a disabled person. This is compounded by the fact disabled people face higher costs of living.

In terms of vocation there is a sizeable difference in the highest level of qualification between those who are disabled and those who are not.


19% of disabled adults have a degree or above, compared with 35% of non-disabled

Furthermore, disabled people tend to earn less than their non-disabled counterparts even if they have the same qualification levels. It is crucial the government provides adequate support for spinal cord injured people accessing in and out of work benefits and support to find well-paid, secure, accessible work.

This consultation is important as it gives those with lived experience of a system which the government acknowledges is insufficient an opportunity to respond, as they are best placed to understand the improvements needed.

The five chapters contained in the consultation are summarised below and a full list of consultation questions can be found here so you can plan your response in advance.

Chapter 1: Providing the right support

Chapter one asks questions regarding the accessibility of signposting and access to advocacy support. This could include the availability of information and the role of the government in ensuring people can access this information. This section also asks about reasonable adjustments to make sure existing services are accessible. Reasonable adjustments can include, for example, support to access information in a variety of formats. This also covers mobility needs and includes access to PIP and DLA mobility payments.

Chapter 2: Improving employment support

Chapter two discusses existing employment support services and how these can be improved. This includes Access to Work and Disability Confident schemes as well as other measures the government can take to support disabled people to access employment opportunities. As well as the existing schemes this section also covers the accessibility and suitability of support including creating a welcoming atmosphere at Job Centres and suitable skill sets of staff providing employment support to disabled people. There is an opportunity to share your past experiences with employment support and what improvements you think can be made. This section also asks about the provision of digital support which has been available during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Chapter 3: Improving our current services

Chapter three focuses on the assessment process for people claiming health and disability benefits. During COVID-19 video and telephone assessments were offered to people and the consultation asks about how mixed methods of assessments can be provided in the future. Questions also ask about how decisions can be better communicated and what steps can be taken to reduce repeat assessments for people with long-term health conditions and disabilities such as Spinal Cord Injury.

Chapter 4: Re-thinking future assessments to support better outcomes

Chapter four is about how decisions are currently made and what evidence is used in the decision making process, for example, whether evidence from health professionals and support organisations should be sought and considered.

Chapter 5: Exploring ways to improve the design of the benefit system

Chapter five asks about the simplification of accessing the benefits system. It also includes questions on the structure of benefits and financial concerns. Some specific questions are asked about extra costs to live independently and access to practical support such as aids, appliances and services.