JOINT ORAL STATEMENT BY APDA, DPAC AND DISABILITY RIGHTS UK TO THE UN FOR PRESENTATION
British government policy at national, regional and local levels repeatedly refers to ‘helping people to stay independent for as long as possible’. It claims its policy accords with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities but demonstrates a failure to comprehend the concept of ‘independent living’ based on the right to exercise choice and control, and equity in life chances. It frequently justifies removal of essential support on the grounds of ‘helping’ to ‘improve their independence’, effectively subverting Article 19 rights to remove rights
After 2009, disabled people hoped for equality, fair treatment and the opportunity to participate fully in society. Instead cuts to social care have made it harder for disabled people to live independently.
Social inclusion has been seriously prejudiced by government attempts to cut costs through so-called welfare reform such as Universal Credit and the abolition of the Disability Living Allowance.
Austerity measures are disproportionately affecting disabled people’s right to an adequate standard of living as set out in the UN CRPD. Assessments are not informed by disabled people’s lived experience of impairment.
The reduction in financial support available to many disabled people has caused increased poverty and a deterioration in well-being and the quality of life. Many cut down on food and heating, use food banks and borrow money that they are ill-equipped to repay.
With many health, social care and public transport services devolved, we see:
· More children in ‘special schools’ rather than mainstream education
· The growing use of compulsory detention/forced treatment powers contained in mental health legislation
· A shortfall in housing that meets the needs of disabled people
· Lack of investment in services supporting independent living
· Inadequate investigation into unexpected deaths of disabled people in state care.
APDA, Disability Rights UK and DPAC have come together to oppose such retrogressive austerity measures. We urge the UN to remind the UK Government to:
· Work with disabled people
· Act on the UN Rapporteur’s recommendations following its 2018 Poverty Review
· Not to forget the UN’s 2016 report that stated that the UK government had systematically violated the rights of people with disabilities through its 2010-2015 welfare ‘reforms’.
Unfortunately, the UN did not give any NGO’s a chance to speak at the conference.