William Eichler 21 August 2017

Councils complicit in ‘human rights violations’, disability organisations say

Deaf and disability organisations have accused the Government and local authorities of human rights violations due to policies which prevent disabled people living independent lives.

They have also said Whitehall is being ‘evasive’ in its response to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The committee is assessing the UK’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, which the Government ratified in 2009.

In their submission to the committee, deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) from across the UK will say that a range of Government policies - many arising from the austerity agenda - place it in breach of the convention.

They will also say other public sector bodies such as local authorities and NHS organisations have ‘aggravated’ Whitehall’s shortcomings by failing to deliver the support and safeguards set out in the convention.

The DDPOs’ submission highlights the poor supply of accessible housing, the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms, and cuts in health and social care services as three factors impacting on the ability of disabled people to live independent lives.

They also highlighted the rise in the number of disabled children in segregated education.

The DDPOs warned the growing use of compulsory detention and forced treatment powers contained in mental health legislation was incompatible with the UN convention.

Plans to cap funding for support that allows disabled people to work were also criticised. The DDPOs said this could force many to give up satisfying and worthwhile jobs.

‘There is clear and extensive evidence of retrogression of disabled people’s rights in the UK since 2010,’ said Tracey Lazard, chief executive officer of Inclusion London speaking on behalf of the Reclaiming Our Future Alliance.

‘To date responses from the Government have failed to acknowledge the existence, let alone the scale, of this problem – a problem that is having a dramatic adverse impact on the lives of millions of disabled people and our families every day.’

The DDPOs also criticised the Government’s submission to the committee, describing it as ‘evasive’.

‘Many of the Government’s answers have a tone of complacency at best and high-handed evasion at worst,’ said Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK.

‘The Government produced no evidence or detail to show how it is supporting people to lead independent lives; something it committed to when it ratified the convention in 2009.

‘The Government document also makes grand claims about the impact of the Equality Act and the Care Act that simply don’t reflect the everyday experiences of disabled people in the UK.’

Responding to the accusations, a Government spokesperson said: 'The UK is a recognised world leader in disability rights and equality, which is why we supported the development of the UN convention.

'Almost 600,000 disabled people have moved into work over the last four years and we spend over £50bn a year to support disabled people and those with health conditions.

'This first periodic review will help build on our progress to empower disabled people in all aspects of their lives.'

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