Can you take this survey to help design a better system for sickness, disability and work?
Forget lifting empty cardboard boxes or picking up pound coins from the floor.
What are the real life factors that limit or prevent you working with a long term health condition?
And what are the adjustments, or forms of support you would need to improve your chances of getting and holding down paid work?
Do you need a compulsory course in motivation building, for example? Or do you need an understanding employer who can tailor a job description to your capabilities?
An important consultation is taking place about the future of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the hated Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and your views are urgently needed to shape recommendations for what a better incapacity benefit and employment support should look like.
The Work and Pensions Committee published its report on the future of welfare to work this week. Its key message is that the government must focus employment support on people with complex needs, in particular expanding provision for people with substantial disability.
There is an obvious solution to the flaws identified in the design of the existing specialist disability employment scheme, Work Choice. And it is the same solution to some of the legendary flaws in the Work Capability Assessment, especially the vexing issue of the work-related activity group (WRAG), where people with severe ill health are put through a punishing back to work regime incapable of addressing their needs. Yet no one seems to have had the insight or will to name it. Continue reading →
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 →
As widely trailed in the general election campaign and in the run-up to budget day, the Chancellor’s Summer 2015 budget included devastating cuts to social security and tax credits, effectively summarised by Disability Rights UK. Despite Osborne’s oft-repeated assurances, in both this and the last Parliament, that disability benefits would be excluded from cuts, there is much in the budget to cause deep concern for disabled people. As in previous rounds of cuts, this is because disabled people rely as much, if not more than non-disabled people, on “mainstream” benefits – such as housing benefit and tax credits. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
Miriam’s letter poignantly describes the sorts of battles disabled people face every day in our country… this is our reality:
Dear Mr Cameron
On 16th August 2006 I was judged to be sufficiently disabled to warrant being awarded the higher rate mobility component and lower rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, indefinitely as my condition is not curable. I have severe Peripheral Vascular Disease. I was also in receipt of Incapacity Benefit at that time. Continue reading →
Today, the Commons Public Accounts Committee published its report into some of the activities of JobCentre Plus (JCP), managed by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). Despite being snowed under with other work, I’ve read some of the report with interest, since I know very well that sick & disabled people who are dependent on benefits are often treated very badly indeed by the system that’s supposed to support them.
As an aside, I dislike the word “vulnerable”, as it tends to be used in relation to most or all sick & disabled people, and there’s no automatic reason why people have to be considered vulnerable just because they happen to be disabled. However, I do think most sick or disabled people who are dependent on benefits are made vulnerable by the benefits system itself, which is steadily becoming less supportive and more punitive. Indeed, in a meeting I attended yesterday, we were reflecting that we really don’t believe punishing people and making their lives more and more stressful is going to “change their behaviour”, which in DWP-speak means “make them get a job”. Quite the reverse; the more punitive the measures taken against sick & disabled people and the more hardship they suffer, the more stressed they will become and the more their health will worsen. It’s not rocket science! If DWP doesn’t understand that, it’s because they don’t want to. Continue reading →