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
Guest blog by members of the Spartacus Network
Vulnerability seemed to be last week’s buzz word. Are people on JSA with mental health problems “vulnerable”? Should society only support the “most vulnerable”? Is Cameron’s targeting of the “most vulnerable” a progressive policy?
By now your blood will probably coming to the boil and you’re likely to be screaming at your “interactive device” of choice. I really don’t blame you – “vulnerable” has become a toxic word in a toxic society with toxic Government policies.
The Social Model of Disability describes how society disables people. However, “vulnerability” seems to be a very different sort of model, artificially created to describe those who are “worthy” of help, to differentiate them from the rest – and it’s a double edged sword. 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
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 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
Despite hundreds of consultation responses explaining the devastating impact on people with significant walking difficulties of using 20 metres as the benchmark distance for eligibility for the enhanced mobility component of PIP* and therefore the Motability scheme, the Government has decided, as we suspected they would, to keep the assessment criteria the same. Whilst this is obviously a disappointment, there are several interesting features of the Government’s response to the consultation worth highlighting (although it’s impossible to unpack the whole document in one article). Continue reading
If you can’t blow your own trumpet on your own blog, where can you?! You’ve been warned…. This has now been reported in our local Kingston press.
Last night I attended the annual Disabled Motoring UK Awards Evening at the Heritage Motor Museum in Warwickshire, where I had the honour of being presented with the O A Denly Memorial Award for my campaigning work on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Note: Guardian article now also available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/18/fight-for-disabled-people-mobility
Disability campaigners welcome today’s announcement that the Government will re-consult on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment, which replaces Disability Living Allowance for working age disabled adults. Organisations and individuals have been campaigning vigorously on this issue since we were shocked to hear, in December last year, that the walking distance criteria for the mobility component, and therefore for assistance from the Motability scheme, had been tightened from 50 metres to 20 metres. Continue reading