Dignity and Opportunity for All:
Securing the rights of disabled people in the austerity era
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 →
The Daily Mail chose today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, champion of the oppressed, by publishing this article today. Here’s my response.
Dear Daily Mail,
I’ve got a little boy. His name is Isaac, and he’s nearly three. Like any little boy, he loves cars, balls, and running around. He’s barely ever still.
A few days ago though, he was. I took him to the supermarket to spend his pocket money, and we passed the donation basket for our local food bank. It was about half full – nothing spectacular, in fact, mostly prunes and pasta – and he asked what it was. As simply as possible, I tried to explain that it was for people to give food for other people who couldn’t afford it.
This affected his two year old brain fairly deeply. After a lot of thought, he decided to spend a little bit of…
The Government’s reforms have now destroyed even the “basic safety net”
The welfare system has become increasingly “punitive”, often leaving people with nothing for days on end…
I’m not naive enough to think the Government will listen, but I am encouraged that an increasing number of people, from all walks of life, are starting to see beyond the Daily Mail-ification of our society. For those struggling to heat their homes and eat, and are even facing eviction, time is running out…
I’m supposed to be writing an important human rights report, but the political messages around today have tempted me to blog – for the first time since the turn of the year, when my anger about poverty spilled into a much less measured blog than usual. My anger has now got the better of me again…
First of all I must say, very clearly, that flooding is terrible for those affected and my heart goes out to all those who have experienced the horror of dirty, sewage-contaminated water flowing through their homes. This blog is not directed against flood victims, but is a comment on the political message and reality behind the Prime Minister’s promises.
The floods have reached the home counties. Beautiful homes next to the River Thames are awash. This is archetypal middle England. Confirmed Tory voters are now being affected by the floods which have ravaged the West Country and other areas for many weeks. Strangely, now that the water is affecting the homes of the “middle classes”, money is suddenly no object. Cameron even says “we’re a wealthy country”. He should choose his words with care…. Continue reading →
This is a very personal blog. One of the issues that has troubled me greatly in relation to this Government is that I’ve been all-too aware of the support Iain Duncan Smith’s policies have enjoyed from the evangelical wing of the church. Indeed, a leading member of a church similar to mine is (still, I believe) one of IDS’s special advisers. I’ve found that very hard to understand or accept – that a committed Christian appears to support social security policies that are causing such hardship and suffering among those who have the misfortune to be disabled, chronically sick or poor. (See note 1) Continue reading →