DPAC was formed by a group of disabled people after the 3rd October mass protests against cuts in Birmingham,England. The 3rd October saw the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people-It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest.
DPAC co-founders are the original Disabled Peoples’ Protest organisers.
DPAC is for everyone who believes that disabled people should have full human rights and equality. It is for everyone that refuses to accept that any country can destroy the lives of people just because they are or become disabled or sick. It is for everyone against government austerity measures which target the poor while leaving the wealthy unscathed. It is for everyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices delivered by wealthy politicians.
DPAC has several hundred formal members and over 3,000 disabled people and carers subscribed to our facebook and website. We campaign together with an increasingly wide range of other disabled people’s campaign groups and other organisations.
We have collated our response to this consultation by using information that has been given to us by our supporters and consider it to be a factual response based of how disabled people feel and how afraid they are at the current time.
- What ideas do you have that could make a difference to you in getting an education, getting a job or being able to live independently?
Adequate funding to meet additional needs of pupils in schools, colleges and universities is essential to allow disabled children and young people to get an education. Cuts to local authority budgets is having a negative impact on this funding.
All disabled children should have a legal right to have a mainstream education. Due to the continuing emphasis on exam results and league tables Academies and free schools are not including disabled children in schools. It is essential that local authority funding can be used by such schools to fund the additional needs of disabled children and that they can access local authority services for SEN education.
As many families with disabled children already live in poverty the removal of Education Maintenance Allowance is stopping disabled children from being able to afford to stay on in schools.
The closure of the Independent Living Fund and cuts to local authority care budgets also means that young disabled adults are not getting the care and support funding they need to go to university. There is also no adequate funding available to meet the costs for any disabled person going to university who needs an additional bedroom in halls of residence for 24 care.
University fees of £9,000 a year make it difficult for disabled students who also have other additional costs to study being able to contemplate going to university, especially with the barriers they will then face trying to get and keep work in an economy with rising unemployment. Unlike non-disabled peers disabled young people are often not in a position to even move from one county to another as care funding is not transportable, let alone consider working in another country.
Without an adequate education getting a job will become more difficult and more disabled young people will be excluded from the labour market.
Many aspects of Access to Work funding have been slashed eg. Some assistive technology which also affects job opportunities as smaller firms, including many of our own Disabled People’s Organisations will no longer be able to afford to make the reasonable adjustments that might be needed in workplaces. The loss of local authority and central government jobs in which the majority of disabled people currently work also means that the likelihood of disabled people being able to get employment will shrink.
The closure of Remploy factories and other sheltered workshops such as Shellforce inBirminghamwill further have a negative effect on disabled people’s ability to find and keep work. In the last round of Remploy factory closures only 5% of those made unemployed were able to obtain alternative employment.
Even paid jobs stacking shelves in supermarkets will become harder and harder to get as the numbers of non-disabled people forced onto still mandatory, unpaid work schemes will mean that companies no longer need as many paid staff for such vacancies.
The plans to send disabled people who possibly have multiple impairments or those who are dying from cancer on workfare schemes for indefinite lengths of time leaves little for anyone to say but can only be viewed as an absolute disgrace. Surely to force someone to work during the last few months of their lives and to remove benefits from them if they re unable to do so amounts to torture.
The scrapping of Disability Living Allowance and the arbitrary removal of half a million disabled people from entitlement to PIP is a further factor that is likely to increase unemployment amongst disabled people. Currently many disabled people are only able to work because they receive DLA and without it they will no longer be able to work. DPAC have already come across several disabled people who have lost DLA and because of this their jobs. Whilst their DLA was re-instated at appeal. Over 10 months later this has not helped them regain employment.
The new PIP assessment must not create a disincentive to using aids and adaptations and should be independently reviewed with the involvement of disabled people’s organisations before being rolled out nationally. Entitlement to this benefit must continue to be based on the principle that this is a benefit based on the additional costs of impairment, and not based on a biopsychosocial model of disability. Changes to PIP should not start with the aim of removing 20% of disabled people from entitlement to the new benefit. DPAC also feel that the cost of this change £675 million could better be spent retaining DLA and continuing to support the 20% of disabled people who will lose entitlement.
Come 2015 if there is no replacement for ILF funding, which local authorities have said they can’t make up, then many more disabled people who currently are working will not have the support they need to continue to do so. I’m sure several members of Equality 2025 will agree with this.
As said above the loss of DLA and ILF funding will prevent independent living, and put this government in breach of its obligations under article 19 of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Further the lack of an adequate stock of affordable, and accessible properties will also prevent many disabled people from living independently. The cumulative effect of Housing Benefit changes and changes to DLA particularly for anyone under 35 years of age could well result in catastrophic levels of homelessness for disabled people. There has been no Equality Impact Assessment of any cumulative effects of benefit changes, or of how such changes will effect passporting via DLA for other benefits.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) carried out an inquiry into the implementation of the right to independent living as set out in Article 19 of the United Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (Disabilities Convention). The Disabilities Convention sets out the steps that governments must take to ensure disabled people enjoy their human rights. It was ratified by the UK Government in June 2009.
This inquiry concluded that the government is not taking the Convention seriously enough and current mix of human rights, equality and community care law is not sufficient to protect and promote the right to independent living. DPAC would add that this is particularly true in relation to funding cuts.
All the current cuts will increase unemployment and homelessness amongst disabled people and make them more dependent on benefits which is exactly the opposite to what the government say it wants.
Cuts to ILF,care funding and benefit levels will mean that pressure will increase ultimately on the NHS which will be much costlier in the end than helping to keep disabled people in reasonable health, out of poverty and living independently.
We feel that there is no real understanding of disability issues shown in current policies and that this government need urgently to start talking to real disabled people and our real organisations before even greater numbers of disabled people start to commit suicide as they see no future for themselves.
4. What helps you to have choice and control over your day-to-day life and the support you get?
The right levels of benefits for those who are unable to work, the right level of care and support for all disabled people, including older disabled people and children. Without these things being right and most are outlined in question 1 above then choice and control does not exist for disabled people.
5. What else would help you to have more choice and control over your day-to-day life and the support you get?
Disabled people already face persistent, significant disadvantages in relation to choice and control and levels of participation in economic and social life, however the cumulative effect of reductions in social care funding, restricting eligibility for social care and welfare reform measures form a significant risk of retrogression of independent living and a breach of Article 19.
The scrapping of cuts to benefits and services which are being proposed will breach disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD.
Access to well-funded and responsive NHS and Mental health services. Private health insurance will not be of any help to disabled people who have pre-existing medical conditions even if they were able to afford it.
The right to independent living should be added as an outcome in any forthcoming adult social care bill inEngland.
The Disability Strategy should include measures to monitor the impact of restrictions on eligibility for adult social care on disabled people’s access to independent living. Although ILF funding has been stopped to new applicants from 2010 there are no figures or information available about how this has affected disabled people who would previously have been able to access ILF funding but who now cannot.
This is unacceptable and the ODI, devolved administrations and local authorities must monitor the impact of reform and spending cuts on the right to independent living and report on the extent to which reform to the ILF, DLA and housing benefit are preventing the government and local authorities to deliver their Article 19 obligations.
Being forced to work, and forced to move homes to ever cheaper areas will also mean that disabled people lose access to the health and other vital services they rely on. For some eg. Those with visual impairments and learning difficulties this will be very difficult to cope with. For anyone with a care package they are likely to end up with a greatly reduced care package as the new Resource Allocation System does not appear to work well.
6. What would help you to access services and activities which suit your needs? For example education, transport, health, social care, and sport, social and recreational activities.
More funding for mainstream education. Fewer ‘special’schools. A legal right to a mainstream education for all disabled children
More accessible transport, an end to Boris’s replacement buses froLondonas they are not sufficiently accessible for wheelchair users.
No cuts to mobility allowance as the environment is still far from being fully accessible to people with a wide range of impairments.
Changing attitudes and behaviour
8. What works well in changing the way other people treat disabled people?
Not having DWP ministers portray disabled people as frauds and benefit scroungers would go a long way towards making non-disabled people treat disabled people less badly. They have distorted fraud rates and not made it clear that the figures they have quoted include much higher rates of error. This is either totally dishonest or totally incompetent on their part.
This type of behaviour has resulted in rising numbers of hate crimes.
9. What else is important in changing the way other people treat disabled people?
Due to the lies told by ministers media coverage of disability and disabled people has often been very negative and this too must change.
Inclusive education would allow disabled children to be seen by others as ‘normal’ and not in need of being segregated from society.
10. What can we do to make sure that everyone recognises the contribution that disabled people can make?
Provide adequate funding to meet the rights guaranteed to disabled people under the UNCRPD, stop ministers lying about them and challenge negative media coverage.
Work out a way for real ‘joined up thinking’ to become a reality. There seems to be a total lack of coordination between Government and other public authorities to meet their obligations under the Convention.
11. Do you have any suggestions for how we should implement and monitor the Strategy once it is developed?
It should be monitored independently by an NGO of disabled people which is funded by government but which otherwise has complete independence from it.
12. Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Any government policies on disability issues should make sure that disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD are not only upheld but strengthened. This is clearly not the case at present and urgent steps must be taken to address this failure of government.
DPAC believe that current government policies are breaching not only Article 19 – a right to independent living but also
Article 16- freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
Article 25 – Health
Article 27 – Work and Employment
Article 28 – Right to an adequate standard of living
Given the vicious attacks against disabled people by this government which are leading nearly every disabled person we have contact with to live in abject and daily fear we feel a consultation like this about future aspirations is perhaps badly timed and inappropriate as so many disabled people do not feel they have any future.
We believe that the extremely high levels of distrust disabled people hold for Maria Miller makes her position as Minster for disabled people untenable and call for her immediate resignation.
We’d like to say finally that we share the concerns expressed by Countess Mar (Vice Chair of the APPG for ME): At a recent APPGD meeting Countess Mar said she is receiving emails every day from disabled people worrying about the assessment system and how they are likely to fall underneath the net because they are not considered sick enough. She is also getting e mails from people who say that they are beginning to be publically discriminated against. “I hate to speak the unspeakable… gbut may I remind you of what happened in 1930s Germany when disabled people and elderly were regarded as being a burden on the state, and may I remind you what happened to them. We don’t want to sleep walk into that situation”.
What we think ODI need to do
- We need a base-line on the poverty of disabled people setting up-This would be based on
- disabled peoples’ income against non-disabled people.
- their housing situation and in particular whether lack of accessible housing is preventing independent living, whether the changes to Housing Benefit legislation are leading to more homelessness amongst disabled people and whether people are being evicted from adapted properties because they can no longer afford the rent.
- access to representation in benefit issues.
- the type of educational establishment disabled children attend ie. segregated/mainstream and whether this has ben forced on them or is their families choice
- how many young disabled people are being denied an adequate level of care and support funding to allow them to go to university or college, and lead independent lives.
- This data should be monitored and updated annually by a user-led organisation funded for that purpose or a DPO university consortium in which all partners have equal status.
- Any strategy must have milestones and targets for the implementation of recommendations. At the moment there are many recognised areas where disabled people and children are not being supported to attain their human rights as guaranteed in UNCRPD, and EcHR.
- There must be a set of proposed actions by each recommendation in this strategy with defined timescales to achieve set targets to improve the situation, targets must be measurable and comparable that is X number of people/children must be removed from the negative situation within X months and a record should be kept of the successful/failure of targets in order to monitor the government/local authority effectiveness on key issues affecting disabled people and children
- We know that the Independent Living Strategy is failing due to cuts at both national and local levels particularly with the failure of the Resource Allocation System and thought must be given to how the aims of this strategy can be implemented and progress towards meeting its targets can be properly measured.