A conversation with a colleague earlier this week made me think about what’s really wrong with this Government’s disability policy. I know disabled people are set up to fail by the actions of DWP and JobCentre Plus, that the Work Capability Assessment is a disaster, that many disabled people will have their independence compromised by the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment, that “protection” of the “most vulnerable” (whoever they are!) from cuts is merely a rhetorical illusion, that cuts in funding to local authorities and the closure of the Independent Living Fund are undermining social care – to list just a few aspects of this Government’s lamentable record. It’s a depressing litany of failure… Continue reading
This report I’ve helped to write for Just Fair has now been published. It analyses the extent to which the UK is meeting its obligations to realise the following rights in relation to disabled people, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD):
- The right to independent living (UNCRPD Article 19)
- The right to work (ICESCR Article 6 and UNCRPD Article 27)
- The right to fair and just conditions of employment (ICESCR Article 7 and UNCRPD Article 27)
- The right to social security (ICESCR Article 9)
- The right to social protection (UNCRPD Article 28)
- The right to an adequate standard of living (ICESCR Article 11 and UNCRPD Article 28)
Good news! The report on disabled people’s human rights, which I’ve been working on for 6 months, is to be launched on Monday 7 July.
Last November, I was commissioned by Just Fair to produce a report entitled “Dignity and Opportunity for All: Securing the rights of disabled people in the austerity era”, to help fulfil the charity’s aim to increase understanding of economic and social rights and ensure that law, policy and practice comply with the UK’s international human rights obligations. The report analyses the extent to which the UK Government is meeting its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil some key disabled people’s rights, including the rights to independent living, work, social security and an adequate standard of living. These rights are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
The analysis is rigorous and evidence-based, and includes a set of recommendations in relation to social care and social security policies. The report will be submitted to the UN committees that monitor these human rights treaties, in order to influence and inform their conclusions regarding UK compliance.
The report launch will take place in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, London SW1A 2LW, on Monday 7 July from 6.30 – 8 pm.
If you would like to attend the launch, please book your ticket online at Eventbrite, not forgetting to book an extra ticket if you need to bring a PA with you. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. See you there!
The Labour Party has commissioned, received – and buried – a superb and timely report into poverty and disability in the UK today. If they won’t publicise it, then we must!
One of the big social and policy challenges in Britain today is the persistent and complex link between disability and poverty – disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, but people living in poverty are also more likely to become disabled. Approximately one-fifth (19%) of the UK population is disabled or has a long term health condition. Disabled people are 30% less likely to be in paid work than non-disabled people but face very high disability-related costs. And this is all in spite of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, ratified by the UK Government in 2009.
Against this background, last Summer Labour commissioned a Task Force to look at ways to break the link between disability and poverty, sending out a press release. All six members of the Task Force are supremely well-qualified, both personally and professionally, to bring together evidence, research and their own understanding of the complexity of disability and chronic ill-health to produce an outstanding report. Mindful of the economic constraints that will face whatever party forms a government in 2015, they tailored the report’s recommendations accordingly, although it is unrealistic to expect to tackle this issue effectively without any further investment at all. Using current expenditure more effectively is the priority. Continue reading
This morning the Court of Appeal quashed the decision of the High Court that the Government acted lawfully in deciding to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which provides funding for independent living for around 19,000 disabled people with the highest support needs. This has some significance for me because in the first article I ever wrote for the Guardian I explained how adequate, self-directed social care support, provided by local authorities and/or the ILF, can enable disabled people to live active and fulfilling lives, engaging in paid work and participating fully in our communities, and how this is at risk due to cuts to social care funding and the proposed closure of the ILF. Continue reading
The High Court has today granted permission for a full hearing of the judicial review challenge to the government’s introduction of more stringent qualifying criteria for mobility benefit.
Steven Sumpter can only walk a few metres with a stick and is otherwise dependent on a wheelchair. He was assessed as eligible for the high rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) last year and has used this to lease a Motability car. Along with thousands of others, he fears that he may lose this benefit under the new Regulations (1). Under the DLA scheme, a person is entitled to the higher rate if they are ‘unable or virtually unable to walk’. Usually claimants are considered to be virtually unable to walk if they cannot walk more than 50m. Under the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme, the relevant distance is reduced to 20m.
Karen Ashton from Public Law Solicitors who represents Mr Sumpter said:
“I am very pleased that the court has found that this case deserves a full hearing. The higher rate of mobility benefit can make an extraordinary difference to a disabled person’s life. But the Government failed to mention the reduction to 20m in their consultations and so those who might be affected did not have the chance to put their case and explain how devastating the consequences will be.” Continue reading
This is the 8th annual Blogging against Disablism Day but I’ve never participated before. I’m not good at these ‘special days’. I write when I want to, when I have something to say and, above all, when I can. Campaigning, advising, writing briefings, attending meetings, maintaining websites, ill-health, family responsibilities etc all take their toll, which is why I don’t blog very often.
Since the Coalition Government came to power, it has become increasingly clear that through a combination of austerity policies and ideological cuts (or ‘reforms’) the independence which disabled people have fought for over several decades is under real threat. These threats include, but are not limited to: the replacement of DLA by the ironically-named Personal Independence Payment, the scrapping of the Severe Disability Premium under Universal Credit, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and the pressures on local authority adult social care services which are increasingly under-funded and over-stretched. These latter two threats go hand in hand, and both are in the news today. Continue reading