Disabled campaigners demand clarification from government on response to UN report
Disabled campaigners have called on the government to urgently address Parliament with a clarification on their response to the UN report released last week which found evidence of grave or systematic violations of disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform.
On Monday 7th November, the UN disability committee published the findings of an inquiry conducted last year following complaints about the UK government’s treatment of Deaf and disabled citizens (1). The findings conclude that the UK government has discriminated against them across three key parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD): independent living, work and employment and adequate standard of living and social protection.
In its report, the UN raised concern that austerity-led policies constituted a deliberate and unjustified retrogression in the protection of the right to an adequate standard of living for disabled people, but the government disregarded this entirely in its response, saying that it “strongly disagrees” with the conclusions and stands by its position that the reforms were right. The response also rejects all eleven of the report’s recommendations, including the call for the government to carry out an assessment of the cumulative impact of all of its cuts and reforms on disabled people.
Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (2) who triggered the investigation, said, “The government response as with all of the statistics and so-called facts they use is woefully short of being anywhere near the truth. They claim the findings are not relevant because they are out of date but actually things have got far worse and will continue to do so with the cut to Employment and Support Allowance due to come in in April 2017, the lowering of the benefit cap and the introduction of Universal credit under which families with disabled members will lose income.”
Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London (3) said, “The UK is the first government in the world to be found guilty of grave or systematic violations of disabled people’s rights. An issue of this seriousness, where the United Nations has found evidence of targeted mistreatment of disabled citizens by the government, must be looked at in Parliament.”
John McArdle, founder of Black Triangle campaign (4) said, “”This government must be held to account. We intend to ensure that it is and we will not desist until we obtain justice and full restoration of our fundamental human rights as disabled people.”
This week campaigners will hold a rally outside Parliament calling on the government to end welfare reform and in memory of Disabled People Against Cuts co-founder Debbie Jolly who did so much to make the UN inquiry happen and who sadly died last week (2).
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Notes for editors:
1) A copy of the report and the government’s response can be found at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/InquiryProcedure.aspx
2) Disabled People Against Cuts was set up in 2010 to oppose the disproportionate impact of austerity measures on Disabled people: www.dpac.uk.net
3) Inclusion London is a pan-London pan-impairment Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation. In 2015 Inclusion London authored a complaint to the United Nations brought by two disabled women who missed out on support from the Independent Living Fund after its closure to new applicants in December 2010: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/un-complaint-puts-ilf-closure-under-international-microscope/
4) For more information about the protest: http://dpac.uk.net/2016/11/stop-the-violations-end-welfare-reform-now/
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