Creative Support goes to the Conservative Party Conference
As Creative Support’s Campaigns representative it was really important to me that we attended the Conservative Party conference. In a year when there have been so many announcements regarding health and social care, a chance to hear these plans in more detail from people in government was a crucial part of preparing Creative Support for these changes.
I attended three fringe events at the conference:
The first, ‘Measuring Poverty: Can we Gain a Better Understanding?’, was really helpful in reminding me that income is the root cause of poverty and other issues such as poor education, lack of material wealth and reduced opportunities are actually more symptomatic. We try to support our service users to bridge the gap out of poverty by finding ways to change circumstances where possible through opportunities such as CV workshops and volunteering schemes.
‘Preparing for Welfare Reform’, the second event, was extremely well-attended and I was lucky to get a seat! This was because Lord Freud, a key figure in the Welfare Reform Bill was a speaker and also taking questions. The main focus was around new welfare and benefits initiatives such as Universal Credit. We’ll be working hard to increase service user internet access as Universal Credit runs on a ‘digital by default’ policy. Freud unfortunately confirmed that the government is planning on cutting housing benefit for under-25s but more positively announced that the DWP were looking into paying Universal Credit in advance to people in severe need, such as those made unemployed with zero notice.
The final fringe event I attended, ‘Creating Sustainable Employment for Disabled People’, included the newly-appointed Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, on the panel. I was really impressed by Esther. She seemed to understand from personal experience that disabled people who have the ability to, and want to work, face a number of barriers to attaining employment. She pointed out that such disabled people are more reliable staff than non-disabled people as they genuinely want to be in their place of work. Social enterprises, which Creative Support has successfully launched across the country, were singled out as an excellent way of gaining necessary experience and we aim to continue introducing these for the benefit of our service users. What I took most from this event was the need for disabled people to have everyday role models, not just Paralympic ones, as an inspiration.
The party conference was definitely worth attending and it was great to be able to put government policy into context with how we can best support the people we work with.
By Alasdair Sladen, Campaigns Intern