Weekly Poll – Brexit Transitions

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 25 January 2021, we asked questions about the impact of Brexit transitions.

Results

Have you been affected by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union?

  • YES – 35% (17 respondents)
  • NO – 65% (31 respondents)

Are you concerned about what might change over the next year?

  • YES – 65% (32 respondents)
  • NO – 35% (17 respondents)

Comments

We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

A key concern of our members was the availability and accessibility of goods from Europe, and the associated price increases which were already evident for some respondents.

Concerns over the availability of medication

The timely availability of medications was of particular concern. New border rules and restrictions could cause potential delays to disabled people getting the medication they need. This also extends to mobility aids, much of which is manufactured in Europe.

“I’m concerned about availability of anti-convulsant medication coming from Europe.”

“I can no longer get the ear drops I need. My drops are not life-saving but other medication for disabled people is.

“I know that at least one of my tablets has been delayed at times. My worry is, if it’s going to get worse and then we’ll see a lot more shortages in medicine and everything to do with the NHS.”

“I don’t think that it will be long before it begins to affect our medical supplies especially as most medical and pharmaceutical supplies come from Europe.”

“Supply and cost of mobility aids, with extended delivery times. These are items ordered to British firms but which they import instead of manufacturing here. Costs have increased also.”

Supermarket supplies

Also of concern was the level of stock available in supermarkets. Some disabled people had already noticed a decline in the availability of produce they would normally buy, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables.

Reliance on online shopping

Availability of stock is also an issue for online shops. As a direct result of COVID-19, many disabled people continue to shield and therefore rely more heavily on online shopping. The feedback suggests that it has become more difficult to get certain products online.

Price increases

Already disabled people are reporting that they are seeing a price increase in supplies from Europe, in addition to delays and declining supplies. This is particularly true of specialised goods pertaining to individual disabilities upon which people rely to maintain their independence. There is a concern that this could exacerbate or contribute to, long-term health conditions.

As disabled people are often on low incomes, or reliant on benefits, the impacts of increasing costs could have a particularly negative effect. One respondent suggests that reduced supply and increasing costs could contribute to more disabled people living in poverty.

Social and Equality Impacts

Disabled people will also be affected by policy and legislative change, specifically all EU based disability rights. A recent report1 from the Scottish Government suggests that while the UK Government has not produced a full equalities impact assessment of Brexit, there are potential legal and socioeconomic effects, such as the loss of legal rights, employment protections, funding opportunities, healthcare rights and impacts on food, fuel and medications.

Respondents to this poll did indicate their concerns over changes to disability rights, as well as negatively impacting on those who rely on social care, which by nature, tends to attract workers from Europe.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a significant number of respondents (65%) have concerns about the impact of Brexit transitions in the coming months. Already, we are hearing reports of price increases, lack of supplies and delays to goods from Europe. We know that disabled people are more likely to be living in poverty2, a situation exacerbated by the current COVID-19 restrictions. Disability Equality Scotland want to ensure that disabled people are not negatively impacted by any reduction to medication or food supplies coming from Europe. We will continue to feed disabled peoples’ views into Government to ensure disability rights are not affected by Brexit transitions.

Disability Equality Scotland, February 2021