Sep 172017
 

If you can help please contact Shivani Misra who is an intern at PLP. Shivani can be contacted on 020 7239 9034 or s.misra@publiclawproject.org.uk

The questionnaire is below but Shivani also needs to interview some people in more depth. This could be an important piece of work which will hopefully help provide evidence to support an end to the vicious sanctions regime.

 

PLP’s Project on Benefit Sanctioning
The Public Law Project (PLP) is undertaking a three year project to develop a strategic legal response to the national issue of benefit sanctioning.
As part of that work, we are carrying out research to gather evidence of the impact of sanctioning on disabled people with a particular focus on the following:
(1) Delays at the mandatory reconsideration and appeal stages, particularly for ESA claimants who have been put into the WRAG or refused ESA altogether and/or where hardship payments are unavailable.
(2) Problems caused by failures to share relevant information about a claimant’s medical condition or disability between the Work Capability assessor, the JCP Decision Maker, and the Work Programme Provider
(3) Failures by Work Programme Providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled claimants in the WRAG or claiming JSA
(4) Lack of/inadequate reasons for sanctioning decisions undermining appeal rights.
This research is being carried out by Shivani Misra who is an intern at PLP. Shivani can be contacted on 020 7239 9034 or s.misra@publiclawproject.org.uk
Shivani is being supervised by Alison Pickup, PLP Legal Director, who can be contacted on 020 7239 9031 or at a.pickup@publiclawproject.org.uk
Impact of Benefit Sanctioning on Disabled People
Questionnaire for claimants
Public Law Project would like to invite you to take part in a survey that will help us better understand the current use and impacts of benefit sanctioning on disabled people. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete and we would very much value your input. Please answer the questions based on your experience of the benefit system.
We want to assure you that your responses are completely anonymous. No personally identifiable information is captured unless you voluntarily offer personal or contact information in any of the comment fields. Your responses would be summarized in a report as evidence on the impact of sanctioning, and we will do our best to ensure that you cannot be identified from any information included in the report unless you agree to being identified. The report may be published and/or used by PLP to support our work trying to improve the fairness of the benefit sanctioning system and to reduce its adverse impact on disabled people.
Any personal data that you supply in response to this survey will be held and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and will only be used for the purposes given above.
About your benefits
Which benefit did you apply for most recently?:
• Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
• Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
• Universal Credit
• Other (please say which)
If you applied for ESA or Universal Credit, have you had your Work Capability Assessment yet?
If you have had your Work Capability Assessment, what was the outcome?
– Granted ESA – placed in support group
– Granted ESA – placed in Work Related Activity Group (‘WRAG’)
– Refused ESA –found to be fit for work
– Refused ESA for another reason (please say what)
Did you agree with the outcome of your Work Capability Assessment?
If not, have you appealed the decision made after your work capability assessment?
About your sanctions
Do you know why you were sanctioned?
Have you been sanctioned more than once?
Did the Job Centre tell you about the reasons for the sanction?
When were you informed about the reasons for the sanction?
(a) When you were told that you were being sanctioned?
(b) Only after a mandatory reconsideration?
(c) Only on appeal?
(d) Not at all?
Were you given an opportunity to provide a ‘good reason’ for the failure to comply before you were sanctioned? If so, did you do so?
How long did the sanction last?
What was the amount of the sanction?
Coping with the sanction
Did you have any other income during the period of your sanction?
How did you cope financially with the sanction? Please think about how you met your essential needs such as food, toiletries, medicine, disability aids, transport, clothing, heating, light, rent. Please tick all that apply.
– Went to food banks
– Used savings
– Borrowed from friends and/or family members
– Borrowed money from bank/building society/credit union/other money lender
– Pawning/selling belongings to raise money
– Eating less
– Not topping up gas/electricity meter
– Walking instead of using car/public transport
– Other
Please give more details if you can:
Were you given any Hardship Payments by the Job Centre?
Where there any other (non-financial) consequences of the sanction? For example, did it impact on your physical or mental health?
Appealing the decision to sanction
Did you appeal against the sanction?
If yes, what was the outcome of the appeal:
(a) At the mandatory reconsideration stage?
(b) At the First-tier Tribunal?
(c)
How much time did it take for the mandatory reconsideration?
How much time did it take for the appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (if you appealed)?
What did you do to meet your needs in the period awaiting the mandatory reconsideration and/or appeal?
About you
This information will help PLP to draw conclusions about the impact of sanctioning on different groups of disabled people.
Please describe the nature of your disability:
What is your age group:
16-17
18-25
26-54
55-65
66+
Do you have any dependents?
If so, which:
– Spouse, civil partner, or other partner living with you
– Children – how many:
o Aged 0-3
o Aged 4-15
o Aged 16 or over
– Other dependent relative living with you
– Other dependent relative (not living with you)
Personal details (optional)
We would like to carry out some more detailed interviews with benefit claimants for the purposes of our research. These interviews will last approximately 30 mins and can be carried out by phone, Skype or face-to-face (depending on location). Are you willing to be interviewed for our research?
Can we contact you in future for the purposes of this research, if we need more information or to clarify or follow up on any of the information provided in your answers to the questions above?
Can we attribute your comments to you in any report of our research? If so, should we identify you by name or another means e.g. “benefit claimant, Manchester”?
If you are willing to be contacted in future, please provide your name, a contact telephone number and/or email address below. We will not publish your name or any contact details, or use this information for any purpose other than those set out above without your prior written consent.
Name:-
Contact number:-
Email:-

 Posted by at 19:56
Sep 172017
 

Please join us at Robertfest 2017, a celebration of the life of Robert Dellar.

When: Sunday 24th September 2017, 12.00 – 0.00

Where: Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY (very close to New Cross station)

Tickets: Unwaged £5, Waged £10, Full ticket £20

Booking: via Eventbrite Robertfest 2017

The event will include some of Robert’s favourite bands, including ATV, Vic Goddard, The Long Decline, The Astronauts, The Ceramic Hobbs, Dave Kusworth, Jowe Head and the Infernal Contraption, Alan Tyler, Frank Bangay, Melanie Clifford, Salad from Atlantis, Dave Russell, Paul Caton, MC Razz and special guests.

RobertFest 2017 will also host the inaugural Robert Dellar Lecture, an annual lecture building on the life, times and activism of Robert Dellar. The first Robert Dellar Lecture will be given by Prof Esther Leslie at 4.30 pm at the Amersham Arms.

Sep 142017
 

by Jenny Tsiropoulou

A petite boy called Diogenes has both of his hands tied with belts to his bed. Mary is 12 years old and has spent her entire life locked up in an empty room without ever seeing the sunlight. Others play inside cages; 2m-long bed-cages with wooden bars. They have never left this prison. They wear diapers 24/7 and are bottle-fed. Some of these residents are already 30 years old. They are on medication; they swallow up to 30 pills a day without being able to articulate a single word, a result of the chemical suppression. The terrible smell of incarceration and bodily waste does not emanate from the video that I am watching.

 

These images were recorded at the Child’s Care Center of Lechaina, a state-run home in the Peloponnese, Greece, in November 2015 by the disabled director and activist Antonis Rellas. He shows them to me today, two years after the recordings, as he completes his documentary titled From Asylum to Society. This material motivated me to travel with him to Lechaina in July 2017.

The residents are the victims of the state’s “Welfare” program and institutionalization scheme concerning mental health patients and disabled individuals in Greece. As newborns, most of them were abandoned forever by their parents, either because their families could not fulfill the needs of a disabled child or because these children, like Hephaestus, were not “normal” babies, and so were thrown out of their homes and into the sea of institutionalized life.

 

Lechaina center, 2015.

An ongoing crime is being disclosed

The Child’s Care Center in Lechaina was founded 27 years ago. This story is not news; on the contrary it is the epitome of an ongoing problem in Greece. In 2009 European volunteers who spent several months in the Center filed the first accusations. Following an investigation, in 2010 the Citizen’s Advocate drew up a report of findings of blatant violations of fundamental human rights at the Center. 2011 was the first time that reporters entered the Center with a TV camera and the situation was described as reminiscent of “medieval times”. Finally, in 2014 world-wide outrage grew after a shocking BBC report that showed children locked up in cages like wild animals in Greece, at the dawn of the 21st century.

After the BBC report, Catherine Papakosta (of the New Democracy party), under-secretary of the Ministry of Health visited the Center. Activists and medical staff reported that “the result was to install an interior surveillance system, completely useless and now out of order”.

Director Antonis Rellas is a member of the Greek Emancipation Movement for the Disabled Zero Tolerance, a group of activists who peacefully occupied the Center for four days, in November 4 in 2015, in order to take action.

Mary, 12, locked up in an empty room, 2015.

 

“The issues concerning the situation in institutions were very well known to us before we decided to take action. The Center in Lechaina happens to be the most representative example of the institutionalization of marginalized, [an example] of which we are not proud at all. Disabled individuals survive in conditions of terror and torture, cut off from the world, tied up in cages, living an inhuman life. It is no coincidence that the majority of the 70 state-run institutions across the country are located outside city limits, so that no one remembers their existence. The fundamental human rights of disabled individuals have been declared by the UN Convention which is also state law, but a crime has been committed for 27 years now by each and every government: it seems as if time were frozen.
Politicians limit their efforts to declaring their sensitivity for these “special” children, without making any substantial form of intervention in order to terminate institutionalization. For these reasons we decided to occupy the Center and demand the termination of the exclusion and the torture of our fellow-disabled” according to Antonis Rellas.

Zero Tolerance activists at Lechaina center, November 2015.

 

Apart from the fact that this is a political and human rights matter, for some activists it has also been personal:

“I went into the cage, lay down and cried. My whole life appeared before my eyes in those seconds. I realized that it was only by luck that I was not one of them. I am on the outside by mistake. If Vaso, my mother, back in 1973 in the city of Patras, a few miles away from here,had not cursed and kicked out her brother-in-law, who had recommended that I be placed in an institution he knew of nearby so that she wouldn’t suffer, I would be one of them. Why am I crying? Why do I get angry? Why am I ready to fall apart as I wait for the photo shoot? The answer is simple. Because when I left this place I left a piece of me in that cage, a cage that will follow me” Andrew Kouzelis,writer, sociologist and activist with spastic quadriplegia, wrote in November 8.

Andrew Kouzelis into the cage, November 2015.

 

In Lechaina

The next day, after a three-hour trip, we arrived from Athens to Lechaina. It was a three-story pink building, a few meters away from the Electricity Substation and far from city limits, with a dome and a Christian cross at the top. There were a few swings in the yard with no children on them, an ambulance parked off to the side and some olive trees. We were told that when a resident dies they plant an olive tree.

Lechaina center.

It is clear that, after the occupation and the pressure the activists of Zero Tolerance, significant changes had been made, such as open bed-cages, reduced medication and minimized mechanical restriction. Residents seem to have come out of sedation, like dolls suddenly infused with life. Some articulate their first words and smile while others eat and drink by themselves during lunchtime. Some had never moved their limbs before the activists’ intervention. There is also air-conditioning, since it gets very hot during the summer, and central heating in wintertime,another result of the activists’ demands.

The staff has been informed of our visit so every space is neat and there are evensome decorations. When we arrive, some residents, or “beneficiaries”, as they are called, spend their morning rest time in the playroom filled with air-mattresses and a TV set. There are seven or eight residents per room and they keep no personal objects. Only a girl named Canella, whose legs are tied up, has a few paintings and teddy bears. “Some of them receive visits from family members,” Antonis Rellas says while he guides me around the building.

Activists with Lechaina residents playing outdoors for the first time.

 

Most of them are forgotten by their families, as if they never existed. While we make our way around I see that the room where 12-year-old Mary was locked up is now the physiotherapy room. Mary has now been transferred to an institution for minors.

A man named Prodromos is 34 years old. He was abandoned as a baby in a small basket and lived in an institution for minors until the age of eight. At the time he fell off the 4th floor of the building and as a TBI patient (Traumatic Brain Injury) he was transferred to Lechaina. He smiles and asks for “sea”, “closet” and “nightstand”. One of his wishes is granted as, that afternoon, we take him for a walk by the sea, which might be a first for him –who knows…

The place is a far cry from the hellhole activists encountered with when they first occupied the building two years ago. But anyone who cannot swallow the idea that these people are not really people, and who reflectsthat every such institution is called home by those who live in it, will realize that the place is still a clinic that belongs more to the Dark Ages, or a scene out ofa dystopic movie.

People as objects in the trashcan

George Tsiakalos, professor of Pedagogy at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, has said that residents of Lechaina “could talk, laugh and go to school” if they did not suffer that tremendous damage of institutionalization. George Nikolaides, director of Mental Health and Social Welfare office at Child’s Health Institute, is the psychiatrist who has been officially in charge of the intervention program in Lechaina since 2016. I asked him how these individuals would be today if they had not lived through medication and mechanical restriction, and also if this really is a case of torture.

“Of course, totally. How does it look for a person to live for 365 days constantly in a cage or have their limbs tied up? What would you call that? This is clearly a violation of basic human rights and, in a sense, a crime for which Greece has been arraigned in all national fora by the United Nations, the Commissioner of Human Rights of the European Council, pertinent bureaus of the European Committee and so on. What happens in Greece is that we pretend to conform to rules and regulations, but things never really change. The first organized protest took place in the late ’90s, coordinated by a group of professionals and activists. The Government and the Administration of the Center managed to scatter the group and some protesters were even arrested. The only thing gained by the protest at the time was the replacement of metal cages with wooden ones,” Dr Nikolaides recalls.

He goes on to explain that “These individuals were treated by the system as if they were objects, with no expectations or individual characteristics. They were objects. What strikes me about my experience working with these people is seeing the moment they awake and become subjects who express their preferences, and take initiatives as simple as reaching out for a specific person to touch and connect with by choice,or talk for the first time in years. What Mr.Tsiakalos had said about education is true, and in fact two of the minors go to a special education primary school.”

“The Lechaina Center has been the trashcan of the Welfare system from all around Greece; every lost case was sent here. Of course there are some clinical cases that are quite severe, with multiple mental, cognitive and motor issues; on the other hand years of institutionalization, mechanical restriction and chemical suppression and years hinders language acquisition and cognitive development. Just think that, when we first intervened, there was a young man who had been tied up for 21 years. Everyone was so isolated and deprived of basic human touch thatwith just a little concern, care and communicative engagement there has been significant improvement.”

I asked for a specific example and he continues: “There is a teenager with an oversized skull, limb hypertrophy and a metabolic disorder that makes his bones brittle and which results in multiple fractures and an inability to hold up his neck. After he suffered a fracture, the courts accused the staffof negligence. So the decision was made to have him constantly tied up so that he would be safer. As we speak, he is no longer restricted in a cage, but free to touch, feel and express his emotions. The solution was a specific moon-shaped pillow that helps him stay steady. I sometimes watch him tidying his things.”

Diogenes with both his hands tied with belts to his bed, 2015.

Inevitably, I ask Dr. Nikolaides if there are members in the Greek scientific community who still recommend mechanical restriction and strong medication. “Yes” he answers “But individually and not in terms of a broad scientific discussion. There is a misleading notion about these institutions that they are some sort of hospital, especially among medical stuff. On the contrary, th residents see these centers as home. Ifa professional thinks he works in a hospital, a proper response to a resident walking around is “What are you doing? Why aren’t you in bed?”

Institutions as Barracks

Today the Center of Lechaina has 44 residents, the oldest of whom is 48 years old.There arefour minors among them. Most of them were initially placed in this Center or in similar institutions and never came out. These residents have cognitive disabilities, and bodily and motor impairments. Here there also individuals with sensory disabilities, such as impaired vision or even blindness. According to the psychiatrist “it is unacceptable that they live here. They do not belong here, because the Center lacks basic infrastructure for people with sensory disabilities.” Similarly, Dr. Nikolaides continues, “There are clinical cases that God knows how they ended up in here. There are patients with autism, to the extreme of the spectrum, and it is such a shame to have them institutionalized.”

According to the latest research conducted in 2014 by the NPO Rizes (Roots) there are 2,825 children institutionalized in Greece, 883 of whom are disabled.The research showed that disability was the main reason for institutionalization, according to the participants, after negligence and abuse. Ofa total of 85 institutions that undertakecare of children, only 28 are supervised by the State, while the rest are run by NGOs or the Church.

The Lechaina Center has a staff of 60 people, 25 of whom are responsible for the immediate care of the residents.Most are not healthcare professionals of any kind. The rest of the staff consists of administrative employees and technicians. As Dr.Nikolaides says “when we arrived in the Center last year, there was an speech and language therapist among us and the response of the staff to the presence of a professional was “What could an speech and language therapist do here? They don’t even speak!” But the good thing is, and this should be mentioned, is that after a year, at least a part of staff appreciates the changes, and actively participates in the effort.”

We spent the night at the Center as guests. In the room I stayed there is a bed, a basin and a wheelchair. There are some stickers of cartoon heroes on the wall and a drawing saying I Love Love.

In the morning all the residents wake up at the same time, eat the same meals and go to sleep at the same time, in an impersonal environment. “When you live in mass conditions, you inevitably follow a specific and quite strict program. Even if we try to improve the environment, there is always an obstacle because of space limitations,” explained the psychiatrist. He continued: “People should go out. Now they go out only for medical reasons. This is completely wrong, because, for example, there are residents with Down Syndrome who, because of long-term institutionalization and a lack of education and socialization never developed fully. Today individuals with Down Syndrome normally work, drive, get married, have friends, make love.”

Disability issues are left on the sidelines of institutional agendas, but also, unfortunately of activist ones. Stories about disabled individuals are used either to add drama to the evening news or as an oportunity to glorify “everyday heroes”. When faced with the brutal images of institutionalization, we look away and attempt to forget them. But emotion means nothing if it is not followed by steps toward improving the situation.

The Battle against Institutionalization – Zero political action?

“The Ministry is very well informed about the conditions and the problems institutions face. We know that the two most important issues are the lack of medical and special education professionals and infrastructure issues. A general meeting of administrators of all such institutions inthe country has been scheduled for November in order to compile a detailed account concerning these problems. The aim of the strategy of Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Solidarity is to accomplish the de-institutionalization to greatest extent while still providing for those in need of the appropriate medical care, and all future actions are to be based on this decision.”

This statement above was the answer of the Secretary to the activists of Zero Tolerance on November 5 in 2015, the second day of the occupation of the Lechaina Center.

On the one hand, the Ministry is fully informed about the conditions in Lechaina. On the other, however,though the Secretary mentions the key-word de-institutionalization, the solutions that are presented seem abstract and disproportionate to the problems. A neat and tidy hellhole is still a hellhole.

Activists and professionals working in Lechaina both agree that residents must receive personalized intervention and special care in order to be prepared for transition to an open and broad care center. How is it possible to move beyond the present model of institutionalization and isolation? Dr. Nikolaides and his colleagues have recently presented their proposal to the Greek government, the European Committee and relevant entities concerning a full plan for the replacement of the Center with smaller houses, different accommodation and better living.

As Dr. Nikolaides says “The proposal took into account the needs of each and every resident of the Center of Lechaina. We did not consider them as a group, but as individuals with specific needs. Some of them, for example, can be transferred to foster homes. In order for the plan to work, we need to have a transition stage, a smaller center. Unfortunately, regarding the history of mental health reform in Greece shows that a smaller care center could be worse than a bigger one. This is why this proposal includes a process of reeducation of staff and residents, so that eventually the residentscan be reintegrated into society. Also, it is essential to include a prevention program to enable families to have access to the necessary intervention programs in order to avoid more petitions for institutionalization. We have also included a certain budget and a timeframe in order for the program to be possible and we wait. But we cannot wait forever…”

“The program is supported financially by the British Organization Lumos, which is run by the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. But it is unacceptable for this project to be supported financially by a foreign organization; the Greek State must share responsibility for this. We receive expressions of interest on behalf of the government, but they need to take action toward di-institutionalization process. There is no use in dissolving this center because of negative publicity without aiming to an inclusion policy.

As far as the financial planning is concerned, Dr. Nikolaides says “The exact budget of the Lechaina Centeris presently vague, as it is for each and every state-run care center. This is the case because of the multiple financial resources centers receive. Given the present data, the amount of money the Center receives is up to 1.5 million Euros annually, which amounts to 2,600 Euros per month for every resident. For our proposal the budget is estimated to be as high as 2.2million Euros for relocation and support, with another million Euros added to that to cover intervention and support programs around the country to avoid institutionalization going forward. There must be no center in the future that resembles the Lechaina Center, neither state-run nor private. Needless to say that in addition to the regulated state-run institutions, there are many private care centers to which we have no access,nor do we have information about their form and function.”

“The main priority is the absorption in the new centers of the medical staff who are part of the system already, but there is also a need for hiring professionals such as psychologists and social workerswho are not presently included in the staff of the Lechaina Center, according to Dr. Nikolaides. “We also try to overcome some of the obligations derived from the Memorandum. It is essential for the state to acknowledge the need of staffing with special education scientists, despite the general limitations on hiring in the public sector.”

In July 13, the assembly of the Greek Communist Party George Lamproulis directed a question in Parliament to the Under-Secretary of Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Solidarity concerning another care center similar to Lechaina, the Sanatorium of Chronic Illnesses in Skaramanga. Unfortunately, his statement reveals the ignorance of most of our society. “The building in Skaramanga accommodates 29 residents, while there is room for more. Why don’t you improve the infrastructure and hire personnel in order to put more children in it?” The under-Secretary answered that large care centers belong to the past, while today “There is need forterminating institutionalization, because the solution does not involve the improvement of these institutions,” referring here to the Lechaina Center as well. “De-institutionalization has helped already many children, according to their families. Institutions cannot be seen as lost soul repositories; it is essential to interact with society”. These were the exact words of Theano Fotiou, which raised expectations for action on behalf of the Ministry.

Asylum and Society

According to Antonis Rellas, “There is an ongoing discussion about closing down the Center in Lechaina, but we are not really sure if the Government is actually planning to do so.” Dr. Nikolaides is also not convinced that the State will take action upon this matter “because of the bureaucracy and malfunction of Welfare in Greece” and the failure of neoliberal politics in terminating institutionalization.
As he explains, “In my opinion, there is no Social Welfare Program in Greece and there will never be. There are few nonrecurring support structures and centers across the country, and that’s it. In the beginning of the 20th century, there was this charity network supported by great donors. After the Second World War Queen Frederica founded asylums for child protection, in order to control and prevent the spreading of Communist ideas. As a result, these asylums were promoting nationalism and religion. In the ’80s there was some kind of progress in health care, but social welfare became more and more of a bureaucratic affair. For example, I visited the Center of Lechaina and they told me that an incoming patient had just been approved. So I asked if anybody had assessed the child or talk to the family.They answered “No, but we checked these”, showing me a pile of folders with all the necessary information. In other words, decision making process about placement of a child happens only through paperwork. In the ’90s the NGOs were suddenly thriving and everybody felt safer with the idea that somebody else, and not only the State, would be considering society’s needs. It is shameful that no government has ever made a breakthrough in Welfare.”

As far as de-institutionalization planning made by neoliberal governments, a significant case was that of Reagan Presidency (1981-1989) in the U.S.A.:

“They threw residents out of the mental hospitals after packing them with a small amount of pills and a friendly wave goodbye. As a result, most of them died within the first year because they had no support or the capacity to survive by themselves, while the rest lived in the streets. It is not at all difficult to make the wrong move and put groups of people in danger, even in worse circumstances than the one described. Given the fact that our country has also been accused of negligence at the Lechaina Center, if any effort at terminating institutionalization is not planned very carefully, it is likely that politicians like Reagan could come along and make all the wrong decisions involving de-institutionalization in our country. Total disaster…”

For two years, Antonis Rellas has filmed the living situation for residents in Lechaina, ever since the public revelation of the first images that showed the horrible situation in that hellhole. His documentary titled From Asylum to Society will be presented in Greek and international film festivals starting next November and is supported financially by the Emancipation Movement for the Disabled Zero Tolerance and the Greek Movement of Disabled Artists.

In his own words, “Our goal is to getall these images out to the public in order to raise awareness and make people realize that everyone is responsible. We need to motivate individuals who seethis situation as criminal to take action and help toward this effort. If we can transform the Center of Lechaina, then we can transform all the others as well”.

 

https://www.thepressproject.gr/endetails.php?aid=116646

 Posted by at 21:20
Sep 142017
 

As Manchester is set to be even more locked down by police and snipers than in previous years that they have hosted the Tory Party Conference we think the only way to directly disrupt the proceedings is via a wall of noise. Thanks to Manchester DPAC members for organising this.

Theresa May: Human Catastrophe

Wednesday 4th October main entrance/exit to Conservative Party Conference.

Assemble 11:30am out front of Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, Manchester, M2 5NS.

To coincide with Theresa May’s speech at the Tory Party conference.

This is to highlight the United Nations finding the Tory government have perpetrated grave and systemic human rights abuses of disabled people that have created a human catastrophe in the UK. Theresa May as Prime Minister and party leader is morally and legally responsible for this shameful state of affairs, and the government show every indication of continuing this persecution. Consequently we see no solution but the removal of her and the Conservative party from power and a new era of rights based social justice based on the social model of disability in keeping with the UNCRPD.

Bring friends, items to make noise with, and your anger.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1958419774427149/?acontext=%7B”source”%3A3%2C”source_newsfeed_story_type”%3A”regular”%2C”action_history”%3A”[%7B%5C”surface%5C”%3A%5C”newsfeed%5C”%2C%5C”mechanism%5C”%3A%5C”feed_story%5C”%

Some funding for travel costs may be available for DPAC members. If you do need help with travel for October 4th only please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

 Posted by at 18:17
Sep 122017
 

Can anyone get to this?Please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net if you can.

Mr Alan Barham

: Paramedic

: PA27031

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 18/09/2017 End: 17:00 21/09/2017

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
Hearing has not yet been held

Whilst registered as a Paramedic and employed as a Disabilities Assessor with Capita:

1. On the Channel 4 programme ‘Dispatches: The Great Benefits Row’ broadcast on 11 April 2016 you were recorded as saying:
a. in response to an unknown service user’s Personal Independent Payment (PIP) assessment, “I’d literally finished his assessment before I’d even walked through the door. I’d done it on Saturday”, or words to that effect.
b. in response to a question regarding PIP assessments that you carry out, “Most of it’s informal obs you catch them out on” or words to that effect.
c. in response to a question regarding PIP assessments you carry out, “They’re informal, that’s why you don’t have to say anything. They’ll tell you everything that they want to tell you, is wrong, you can completely dismiss it more often than not. You’ll get your whole assessment done with watching what they do” or words to that effect.
d. in response to an unknown service user’s PIP assessment, “Disability known as being fat. She asks for help to wipe her arse because she’s too ******* fat to do it herself” or words to that effect.

2. You did not maintain the confidentiality of service users, in that as shown on the Channel 4 programme ‘Dispatches: The Great Benefits Row’ broadcast on 11 April 2016 you:
a. took a photo of an PIP assessment of an unknown service user on your personal phone;
b. admitted to taking photos of PIP assessments in the past and retaining them on your personal phone.

3. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 2 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

4. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

 Posted by at 21:15
Sep 122017
 

3 weeks after the UN described the treatment of disabled people as a ‘human catastrophe’, the UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has still not made a statement or acknowledged the human cost that disabled people paid since 2010 under the pretext of ‘austerity’.

It is astonishing as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell always supported in the past the struggles of disabled people and were at countless protests to save the Independent Living Fund.  Debbie Abrahams wrote an article about the UN findings, but what about Labour shadow Minister for disabled people? Her twitter handle does not mention her ministerial role @MarieRimmer, neither is her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MarieRimmer or her Parliamentary website: http://www.marierimmer.org.uk/

She certainly did not have one word to say about the findings of the United Nations Committee for the rights of people with disability, or hardly anything to say at all about disabled people as show her spoken contributions https://hansard.parliament.uk/search/MemberContributions?memberId=4457

So we are asking you to tweet Jeremy Corbyn and ask him to hold Theresa May to account during Prime Minister Question Time

#HumanCatastrophe for disabled people says the UN @JeremyCorbyn must hold #May to account at #PMQs

#HumanCatastrophe for disabled people says UN @JeremyCorbyn Why no statements from Leader of the opposition #PMQs

 

#HumanCatastrophe for disabled people says the UN @JeremyCorbyn Where is the Shadow Minister for DP@MarieRimmer?

You can read more on the Black Triangle website: https://www.facebook.com/blacktriangle11/posts/1578145695540731:0

 

 Posted by at 18:22
Sep 042017
 

Last Friday the Appeal Court handed down their judgement in the Davey vs Oxfordshire Council case and in short said that a Judicial Review process wasn’t the right place to argue against cuts to care funding. Where that leaves disabled people who face cuts to their funding we have no idea or where such cuts are supposed to be challenged remains a mystery. This is one person’s view of the court proceedings and the appalling lack of access for disabled people to our court buildings -even when the cases being heard are about disabled people’s rights.

Judge, Jury and Execution of basic human rights: A court case about Independent Living money for disabled people

 

I didn’t know Luke Davies’ specific story when I got the email, but we the people;  disabled people, our friends, family, carers, lovers and by the horror stories we constantly hear about and live everyday, we can get the gist of it. The last dregs of our welfare, that the state drip feed us – our last remaining nationlised services, our Independent Living, our humanity, have been smacked out of our gasping selves by privatisation. I didn’t know Luke Davies or the story that surrounds hum and his loved ones, but by god, Last Thursday, when we finally managed to go to court about the abomination that is happening to us and our public services, did we hear the specifics of our story.

 

That was why it was so crucial for our voices to be heard, for us to be seen outside the Royal Courts of Justice – in part by the media including the BBC and ITV no less, and to be there for our brother Luke and his family.

 

I love how these images show all of us, disabled, enabled, young and old, black and white, different expressions of gender and identity, our intersections being made visible, loudly, joyfully at times, coming together against our current capitalist nonsense. Shout out to [what are their names?] ‘s serving Annie Lennox militant revolutionary, circa  Love is a stranger https://youtu.be/o6f593X6rv8?t=2m7s  realness.

Some of us couldn’t get in. We couldn’t even get into the front entrance, we were shooed round the back, “lack of staff” the same story

 

I for one managed to get in, just about. After you cower under the cathedral of enormous white stone architecture, up the hallowed steps, not accessible of course, you heave at the heavy door, there’s airport type security, which, I for one get intimidated by. Have I got anything weird in my bag? I have moisturiser will they think it’s a jelly explosive? I have water – acid? You have to drink your liquids to prove it’s not anything and potentially die in the process. After that malarkey you’re finally and officially inside the Cathedral of Money. The main hall is like an aircraft hangar, it’s stupidly gigantic and decorative. Rich Old White Men in oil paintings glare down at you. Walking with our footsteps echoed 10 fold, someone among us said these places are designed to intimate you, if so, it was working.

 

The courtroom had been changed because the original room for a DISABILITY CASE WASN’T ACCESSIBLE. We had minutes to find it. We were given a map and escorted into a tiny old lift, half the lights were broken and the ones that were had a glare so everything had even more of an off-putting edge to it. When we churned out the place was an old white maze; a rabbit warren of inaccessible stairs, arrows pointing toward more stairs, a massive courtyard then more arrows pointing you to another flight of stairs. When you need the bathroom guess what comes before you? Yes, well done. It looked and felt a bit like this.

 

 

But what of the main man himself? We waited and had even signed a birthday card for Luke. Of course, due to taxis not being able to find accessible spaces, Luke and his family were running late. Two years of atrocity, heartache and stress built upon this day, built by structures that don’t accommodate people like us. When Luke and his family finally got there, him and his family didn’t seem there at all, as you’d expect, distant and full of nerves. All that agony and they had to wait even longer for justice.  The time lurched ever closer to the start of the proceedings, a friend of mine was missing, so I ran down to find them.

 

Blinking in the burning sun outside, they texted that they were coming so I ran back up the moneyed stairs. I had to go through security again of course. I couldn’t hear the throngs of us in the corridor, it must have started. Deathly silence, on tiptoes, wincing, I opened the door, deathly silence. Nothing, a corridor! Another door, I was in – full of serious suits and wigs; more vacuum-packed silence for the wigs and suits, I tripped over someone’s crutches, clattering them in the hush. I dived into the closest seat.

 

I missed the bit you see in TV and films where you stand for the judge and his knockers which was a bit gutting. He didn’t have a black robe on, nor a wig, I didn’t see a hammer (gobble?) unfortunately, was he even the judge? Who were all these people? It looked like the room the phone hacking scandal took place in, sterile and plastic. It wanted to look official but was more office-y not court-y i.e. wood paneled but  totally didn’t look like it save for the seating arrangements and slightly raised desks. I couldn’t see a jury and there were microphones and laptops everywhere, even the person sitting next to me in the audience had one, which was a distraction. As was having a Vicar sat next to me, on a smartphone. There were wigs though, old white wigs, blonde no less.

 

But what were the wigs saying? It wasn’t like the traditional court room dramas you see on screen with lawyers jumping up screaming, “OBJECTION!” and a judge crying for order whilst a witness actually cries then the handsome lawyer delivers an impassionate call to arms for truth and beauty and all that is good in this world in an earth shattering emotional speech wherein the whole court starts crying and the jury hugs it out. No, this is England and a Thursday morning in reality. It is pure, dry, uncut incomprehensible legal jargon for four plus hours. Dirge-y doublespeak. It’s delivered not only in a monotone, hardly any emphasis or change of pitch, rhythm or emotion on any word or phrase so you may have some indication of where it was all going. Crucially though, it’s delivered in list, alphabetical and numerical order with a lot of subsections, pages and files. “Supplementary file, page 51, Section D, subjection E points 1-15”. Pages are flipped, we wait, it’s read out, then we move on to the next clause, we wait. There are zero surprise witnesses in judicial review apparently.

 

But could we hear what the wigs were saying? The Judge bashfully reiterated the fact that they were trying to have the hearing loop configured after the lunch break – not before the lunch break, or before we arrived or just working already for anyone, it being a crucial public space where it’s quite important to hear what’s going on of course, after the lunch break. Have a break, have some equal participation in democracy and society. They weren’t aware of the in’s and outs of Hearing aids they admitted. They also admitted their lack of knowledge when it comes to wheelchair access, one guessed that you just hire them out. Admittedly, that could be a good start up for anyone reading this, Uber but for wheelchairs. We’ll come back to this idea, seriously.

 

Anyway, what was being said in the courtroom was delivered in an alien (but not in a fun way) way. Truth be told, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I think the basic premise was that our defense for Luke was going through The Care Act 2014 as well as some other legal business step by step, subsection by subjection, to illustrate our argument and counteract the prosecution’s argument. All using extremely dry words, phrases and general legal talk that I’d never heard before. Nor was it said in an explanatory clear way, with…Pauses…and…Stresses…But-listing-it-all-off-as-everyone –else-seemed-to had-heard-it-all-before. I only gleamed he was The Goody because a friend said so.

 

As I waded through the jargon river a wild Vicar appeared as well as his wild blue bird twittering away in my field of vision. A Vicar on Twitter in court. An elderly person on social media in court no less. I was “skunnered” by as Scots say.

 

He had a hearing aid which kept ringing and squealing so he kept adjusting it, bless him.  He was the one the hearing aid chat was about. When this chat commenced he clearly couldn’t hear it. I had to give hum a nudge. He let the hearing commence without his hearing. He then very loudly tried to have some hearing aid banter with me mid court session to which we got an ear-full.

 

He got back to his phone tapping away. It was like being in a cinema and there’s that one glare that distracts you. When he got bored he checked his emails. When he got bored of his phone, he got out a flipping magazine. Not a glossy but a paper one which you can really hear. Especially in a quiet court, leafing away, very slowly which prolongs and really makes audible that papery sound, folding the whole thing it in half or more over each time like some people do with broadsheets newspaper but with an A4 magazine, to his credit, The Big Issue. When he got bored with that he stage whispered his apologies and that he had to go, shuffled very slowly out with a final “SOLIDARITY!” to everyone.

 

So that all didn’t help my attention, nor did all the clacking of laptops, shuffling of paper, people pacing around, whispering, writing, doing legal things, in and out of the court. The worst of it being that they all try and do it very discreetly, as slowly as possible do detract attention but that gives them more attention as they’re going about it so slowly and clearly that you wonder what the commotion is and what they’re trying to do so subtly and BOOM! You’re attentive. What also didn’t help my attention was an attractive intern was potentially checking me out. Was he? When you’re in a space for a prolonged amount of time these issues take precedence unfortunately. It doesn’t help that when someone looks at you, you usually look back, this tennis match of eye contact and ‘Is he isn’t he’ happened for a ridiculously prolonged amount of time.

 

Any road, I loved our lawyer. Despite it all being dusty and dry in a format that was unfamiliar, his delivery was still pitch perfect; no stumbling, stuttering, hesitation or repetition but concise, calm, covering every square millimeter of ground and extremely methodical about it. He lined up our case extraordinarily literally to the letter. Perhaps that might have been to his detriment to which  we’ll come back to, too. I think the Judge loved him too who seemed to truly understand his points by rephrasing them and not only that but filling in gaps and making new points! One example being that by getting rid of Luke’s carers, you get rid of 20 years of bespoke expert knowledge of Luke’s individual needs.

 

What were the Barrister’s main points though? I presume it was our own points and just plain logic itself in that; if you keep lowering wages people won’t work for so little money. Especially if you’re as qualified and experienced as Luke’s carers of 20 years.  Luke is severely disabled and a human being. If you leave him or anyone alone for a period of time that can be very distressing, especially if you have preexisting health, mental or otherwise, incontinence especially.  The others being in regards to scheduling of activities that any human should be able to do and the cut backs destroying these.

 

I personally didn’t quite understand what his other points and the finer points of ones I did were, so, I’ve asked other people that were there what they were. Here’s what they had to say [If you or Sveleta know/have time please say otherwise feel free to delete this paragraph! What were Barrister’s points?! Can’t remember!]

 

The Prosecution was someone I didn’t love, he was literally the archetypal pantomime Villain. Not only was he arguing for privitisation and the firing of loved ones and cuts to public services but primarily his voice and behavior was annoying.  The classic sneering “Nyaaaaa” twirly moustache, pitiful anxious clear cut character arc character in classic films type character whom you could see why they became a villain, you can tell they were bullied at school, small man syndrome type Villain. Really nasally and whiny, the complete polar opposite of our defense, neither calm nor collected or concise: stumbling and bumbling his way here and there, sucking up to the teachers, I mean judges. Not only that but his arguments sucked too, he gave the judges completely the wrong references and argued against those instead! The judges called him out outright saying they were the wrong references.

 

The crux of his “argument” appeared to be that it’s a privilege to be able to be out the house for longer than 3 hours,  that he doesn’t need carers as he has plenty of friends and family. His luxurious example? One time, Luke went to Bognor Regis with a friend for a couple of days. Yes, Bognor Regis, his equivalent of a Valhalla of human rights gone mad. A land of milk and honey, a Babylon of Sodom and Gomorra level proportions where freedom reigns supreme. Now I can’t remember who interjected, whether that was our defense or the judges who shut this down, but whoever did so with the fact that Luke’s family had saved up for 3 years to go for that  outing, 102 miles, to Bognor flipping Regis.

 

Whilst arguing that Luke has a plethora of family and friends he kept mentioning his parents’ age when they were less than 10 meters away. Essentially saying them they’d be dead soon and instead of people he’s known for 20 years, have agency workers on minimum wage take over care for their son.

 

This is the kind of “logic” and “rational” that the legal system cherishes so much that we’re dealing with here. Quibble over pennies for a trip to a seaside town but throw away invaluable human beings.

 

So you can imagine the outcome of this case, we lost. It feels unnecessary and an understatement to call the outcome ‘disappointing’, I saw one of us in a wheelchair crying her eyes out before the second half even really began but that’s what this is.  There’s that phrase parents use, “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed”. We are angry but it’s almost a grieving level beyond that where you’re just desolate in your faith for humanity. They could have done so much better.

 

How judges, in all their insight into legal dramas over the years, can literally make the points for you, only to throw it all away because it’s “the Council’s actions have not acted unlawfully”. That was the outcome, what they’ve done is legal and therefore it’s fine. Just because something’s “not unlawful”/legal doesn’t make it fine. How is stealing legal? How is taking money and people away from a disabled man fine? What’s ridiculous is that, purely on a rational and moral level, this system is meant to represent, and always look to their shining light, rationality and morality, yet they’re so incomprehensibly irrational and immoral in their actions.

 

You don’t need to pay me an extortionate amount in legal fees and make you wait years for my conclusion to this case.  The ruling was that the lower rates of pay wouldn’t make people leave but they’re on record on email saying so that it definitely would and they will.  It’s legal but it shouldn’t be and not an excuse to steal someone’s money or people they rely on. If he wants time alone or doesn’t want more than x amount of hours alone don’t contradict that for the sake of “independence”. Firstly, he isn’t a child who needs to learn a lesson, he’s a 42 year old adult and moreover, a human being, he knows what he wants, stop presuming. He’s intensely disabled, stop making life more difficult for him than it is already and have some respect and compassion for him. Picture shitting yourself, sitting in it and not physically being able to deal with it for more than two hours. That is not independence, that is the state being inhumane to the highest degree.

 

It is this Nanny State dictating what is good for us that led people to rebel and vote for Brexit. We definitely shouldn’t have voted Brexit but I think we are tired of the expert ruling and the framework that it’s in. I would argue that it’s down to a lack of common ground and understanding within that frame. Wheelchair frames and access to them as a whole and not understanding that you can’t just Uber one and pick it up in 5 being one such example. What it’s like not being able to be on your own, not being able to fully see or move and sit in your own shit, for more than two hours. Not being paid an extortionate amount of money, money that doesn’t seem to understand  someone like Luke. I noticed a lot of middle class and above accents in that room. I counted one black woman and one potentially disabled person in authority that day. That’s an enormous amount of progress from what we’ve seen but we need more of that please.

 

We need to stop constantly having old white men being the supreme court rulers of justice.  Stop them swinging their dicks about, woops I mean, “Hammers” sorry, “hammers”. That’s what this is though let’s face it. Boys being boys, men being conditioned men, suppressing any empathy and emotion or kindness for each other because that’s Girl’s stuff for the sake of “rationality” verses “irrationality”. It’s such a treasured concept in masculinity, to be “rational”. Anything that has the hint of heart or compassion for your fellow human being is hit with a hammer and considered “irrational” and thrown aside, boys don’t do that, urgh.

 

We forget that though in this game of Rational or Not Rational. W forget how we’re all human beings who have to have some heart and look after each other so we don’t kill each other in the microcosmic time we have on this rock floating through space. That’s the heart of democracy is not coldly suppressing love for your fellow man. Learning to get along and not hide your feelings. I bet these men playing these games probably want to say sorry being so silly and give each other a hug for but that’s GAY so they don’t because that’s what GIRLS do so they have to be STRONG and STABLE and RATIONAL so they don’t.

 

It is a game though, an interesting game where, without getting too weird and Freudian about it, they may subconsciously want to embrace these more societally conditioned traits of “femininity”. These boys put these curly “girly” wigs on, wear big flowing dresses to talk about their feelings and not just physically fight to resolve their differences. But of course they have to have big shouting matches with a phallic object and have rules and drown it all in nonsense terminology to disguise it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re getting there, though. Women, black women crucially, are getting in there. Slowly but surely. One judge seemed to recognise it’s a weird game where human lives are pawns and  made remarks over how difficult this is for the family, to have their lives so ruthlessly torn apart in nasty ways. He also remarked how family should be just that for the most part and have time to be that, family, not Carers looking after a client but have to time to not be and enjoy each other’s company. That’s how our communities used to be, communities where we would all help each other in the village, support from the community and in our current age of Selfie atomised individualised Neo-Liberal Thatcher nonsense we have to come back to that way of being. We all need to look after each other like that.

 

May I also point out that at the end the judge made a joke about after the nasty prosecution repeating the parent’s age so often, for good measure, he’d tell the room the other judge’s age next time.

 

This case, especially in light of the UN’S findings of the UK’s disgusting dealings with disabled people isn’t a joke. Someone asked why the press loved court room dramas so much and as I’ve said, it’s a game with clear winners and losers, goodies and baddies that people know and understand. Now we know how much of a con it is, let’s stop playing and start helping people like we used to, before the big wigs started shouting.

 

 

 

Joe Langlois

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:01
Sep 042017
 
  CRPD/C/GBR/CO/1
Advance unedited version Distr.: General

29 August 2017

 

Original: English

English, Russian and Spanish only

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Concluding observations on the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*

  1. Introduction
  2. The Committee considered the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (CRPD/C/GBR/1) at its 348th and 349th meetings (see CRPD/C/SR.348 and 349), held on 23 and 24 August 2017. It adopted the present concluding observations at its 356th meeting, held on 29 August 2017.
  3. The Committee welcomes the initial report of the State party, which was prepared in accordance with the Committee’s reporting guidelines. It also appreciates the State party’s written replies (CRPD/C/GBR/Q/1/Add.1) to the list of issues prepared by the Committee (CRPD/C/GBR/Q/1). It further appreciates the clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee.
  4. The Committee appreciates the constructive dialogue held during the consideration of the report and commends the State party for its delegation, which included delegates from various departments of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and from the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  5. Positive aspects
  6. The Committee commends the State party’s withdrawal of the reservation to Article 12 (4) of the Convention.
  7. The Committee welcomes the information about the adoption of legislative and policy measures that develop different aspects of the Convention, such as the National Plan of action to implement the Convention launched in 2016 and the Scottish Social Security System, which included the involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities in their design. It also welcomes the adoption of the Accessible Travel Framework in Scotland, in 2016, with provisions on accessibility for persons with disabilities and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2015, which provides a framework for social services and health.

III.    Principal areas of concern and recommendations

  1. General principles and obligations (arts. 1-4)
  2. The Committee welcomes the information about the support of the State party’s Government to the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories for the extension of the Convention. However, it observes with concern:

(a)    The insufficient incorporation and uneven implementation of the Convention across all policy areas and levels within all regions, devolved governments and Overseas Territories;

(b)     The lack of consistency across the State party in the understanding of, adapting to and applying the human rights model of disability and its evolving concept of disability;

(c)      The absence of a comprehensive and cross-cutting review of the State party’s legislation and policies, including within the devolved governments, in order to harmonise legal content and practice with the Convention;

(d)     The existing laws, regulations, and practises which discriminate against persons with disabilities; and

(e)      The lack of information on policies, programmes and measures that will be put in place by the State party to protect persons with disabilities from being negatively affected, upon triggering article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Incorporate the Convention into its legislation, recognizing access to domestic remedies for breaches of the Convention, and adopt an appropriate and comprehensive response to the obligations enshrined in the Convention in its policies and programmes across the State party, including all devolved governments;

(b)     Strengthen its efforts to extend the Convention and support its implementation in the Overseas Territories;

(c)      Adopt legally binding instruments to implement the concept of disability, in line with article 1 of the Convention and ensure that new and existing legislation incorporate the human rights model of disability across all policy areas and all levels and regions of all devolved government and overseas territories;

(d)     Undertake a comprehensive crosscutting review of its legislation and policies to bring them into line with article 1 of the Convention, and ensure that the legal framework protects persons with disabilities against discrimination on the grounds of disability. In this process, the State party should involve organisations of persons with disabilities and national human rights institutions;

(e)      Expedite the process to develop a measurable strategic framework and plan of action, with sufficient financial resources aimed at abolishing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities and to ensure the equal protection of persons with disabilities; and

(f)      Prevent any negative consequences for persons with disabilities by the decision of the triggering article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, in close consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities.

  1. The Committee is concerned at the lack of State party-led initiatives aimed at assessing and sufficiently addressing the inclusion of and living conditions for persons with disabilities, particularly in Northern Ireland and the overseas territories.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party collect information and adopt a strategic and measurable plan of action for improving the living conditions of all persons with disabilities, including in close cooperation with authorities in Northern Ireland and the overseas territories.
  3. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     The challenges facing organisations of persons with disabilities, including organisations representing women, children and intersex persons with disabilities, to access support and be consulted and actively involved in the implementation of the Convention; and

(b)     The lack of mechanisms to ensure effective participation of all organisations of persons with disabilities, in decision-making processes concerning policies and legislation in all areas of the Convention, such as the strategy “Fulfilling Potential: Making it Happen”.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Allocate financial resources to support organisations representing persons with disabilities, including women and children with disabilities, and develop mechanisms to ensure an inclusive, strategic, and active involvement of organisations of persons with disabilities, including women, children and intersex persons in planning and implementing of all legislation and measures affecting the lives of persons with disabilities; and

(b)     Establish mechanisms supporting the full participation of organisations of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of strategic policies aimed at implementing the Convention across the State party, through objective measurable, financed and monitored strategic plan of actions.

  1. Specific rights

Equality and non-discrimination (art. 5)

  1. The Committee is concerned about perceptions in society stigmatizing persons with disabilities as living a life of less value and the termination of pregnancy at any stage on the basis of foetal impairment.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party changes abortion law accordingly. Women’s rights to reproductive and sexual autonomy should be respected without legalizing selective abortions on ground of foetus deficiency.
  3. The Committee is concerned that the anti-discrimination legislation does not provide comprehensive and appropriate protection, particularly against multiple and intersectional discrimination, including in access to housing. It is also concerned about the low level of redress in rulings adopted by the judiciary while adjudicating cases of discrimination against persons with disabilities.
  4. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with Goal 10 of Sustainable Development Goals and targets 10.2 and 10.3, explicitly incorporate in its national legislation protection from, in particular multiple and intersectional discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race, disability, migrant, refugee and /or other status, and provide appropriate compensation, and redress for victims, and sanctions proportional with the severity of the violation.
  5. The Committee is concerned that the duty to make reasonable adjustments to the common parts of residential properties in the Equality Act 2010 is not yet in force, and that persons with disabilities living in Northern Ireland are not adequately protected against direct and indirect disability-based discrimination and against discrimination by association.
  6. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Brings its anti-discrimination legislation into alignment with the Convention and speed up the process to bring into force all legislative provisions in the Equality Act 2010, including those concerning reasonable accommodation in the housing sector; and

(b)     Take the necessary measures through the appropriate authorities to ensure that the Northern Ireland Executive reform on disability rights law reflects the recommendations made by Equality Commission for Northern Ireland in its 2012 Strengthening Protection for Disabled People report, to protect persons with disabilities in Northern Ireland from direct and indirect disability-based discrimination and discrimination through association.

Women with disabilities (art. 6)

  1. The Committee is concerned that the rights of women and girls with disabilities have not been systematically mainstreamed into both the gender equality and disability agenda. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of measures and available data concerning the impact of multiple and intersectional discrimination of women and girls with disabilities.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of women and girls with disabilities, mainstream the rights of women and girls with disabilities into disability and gender-equality policies. It also recommends that the State party, in line with the Committee’s general comment No. 3 (2016) and targets 5.1, 5.2 and 5.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopt inclusive and targeted measures, including disaggregated data, to prevent multiple and intersectional discrimination of women and girls with disabilities, in particular those with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, in education, employment, poverty, health, violence and access to justice.

Children with disabilities (art. 7)

  1. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     The lack of policy framework addressing poverty of families with children with disabilities;

(b)     The failure to incorporate the human rights model of disability in public policies and legislation concerning children and young persons with disabilities;

(c)      The lack of monitoring mechanisms and reliable indicators;

(d)     The absence of a general statutory duty upon public authorities to ensure adequate childcare for children with disabilities; and

(e)      The reported increase of incidents of bullying, hate speech and hate crime against children with disabilities.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of representing children with disabilities, develop and implement policies aimed at:

(a)     Eliminating the higher level of poverty among families with children with disabilities;

(b)     Incorporating the human rights model of disability into all laws and regulations concerning children with disabilities;

(c)      Setting up an independent monitoring mechanism to oversee the development through reliable and meaningful indicators;

(d)     Securing sufficient and disability-sensitive childcare as a statutory duty across the State party; and

(e)      Strengthening measures to prevent bullying, hate speech and hate crime against children with disabilities.

             Awareness Raising (art. 8)

  1. The Committee is concerned at the persisting occurring incidents of negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice against persons with disabilities, in particular towards persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities and persons with neurological and cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer, as well as concerning their social protection entitlements
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, strengthen its awareness-raising campaigns aimed at eliminating negative stereotypes and prejudice towards persons with disabilities, particularly persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities and persons with neurological and cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer. The State party should include mass-media strategies and campaigns, with different target audience groups based on the human rights model of disability.

Accessibility (art. 9)

  1. The Committee is concerned by the lack of obligatory and implemented accessible standards relating to, among others, the physical environment, affordable housing, ICT, transport, and information in urban as well as rural areas. It is also concerned about the austerity measures that have hindered the advancement of accessibility for persons with disabilities.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities:

(a)     Adopt and implement obligatory accessibility standards for designing affordable and accessible physical environments, housing, ICT, information-formats and transport infrastructure, including emergency services and green and public spaces relating to both urban and rural areas;

(b)     Pay attention to the links between article 9 of the Convention and the Committee’s general comment no. 2 (2014) on accessibility, and targets 9, 11.2 and 11.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals; and

(c)      Monitor the development towards full inclusion through accessibility and sanctioning violations of accessibility regulations.

Right to life (art. 10)

  1. The Committee observes with concern the substituted decision-making in matters of termination or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and care that is inconsistent with the right to life of persons with disabilities as equal and contributing members of society.
  2. The Committee recalls that the right to life is absolute from which no derogations are permitted and recommends that the State party adopt a plan of action aimed at eliminating perceptions towards persons with disabilities as not having “a good and decent life”, but rather recognising persons with disabilities as equal persons and part of the diversity of humankind, and ensure access to life-sustaining treatment and/or

Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies (art. 11)

  1. The Committee is concerned about the impacts on persons with disabilities in situations of emergencies, including floods and fire, and the absence of comprehensive policies related to disaster risk reduction that include persons with disabilities in the planning, implementation and monitoring processes of disaster risk reduction.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Adopt a comprehensive disaster risk reduction plan and strategies that provide for accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities, in all situations of risk, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, in close consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities;

(b)     Mainstream disability in all humanitarian aid channels and involve organizations of persons with disabilities in setting priorities on aid distribution in the context of risk and humanitarian emergencies, paying attention to the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action;

(c)      Develop information and warning systems in humanitarian emergencies that are accessible for all persons with disabilities; and

(d)  Ensure that organizations of persons with disabilities participate in the resilience teams at the local level and have an active role in advising on and formulating policies and guidelines regarding disaster preparedness and planning.

Equal recognition before the law (art. 12)

  1. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     The legislation restricting legal capacity of persons with disabilities on the basis of actual or perceived impairment;

(b)     The prevalence of substituted decision-making in legislation and practice, and the lack of full recognition of the right to individualized supported decision-making that fully respects the autonomy, will and preferences of persons with disabilities;

(c)      The lack of appropriate and independent support to all asylum seekers and refugees with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities, in exercising their legal capacity; and

(d) The high number of black people with disabilities compulsorily detained and treated against their will.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, including those representing persons from black and minority ethnic groups and in line with the Committee’s general comment no. 1 (2014), abolish all forms of substituted decision-making concerning all spheres and areas of life by reviewing and adopting new legislation in line with the Convention to initiate new policies in both mental capacity and mental health laws. It further urges the State party to step up efforts to foster research, data and good practices of, and speed up the development of supported decision-making regimes. It further recommends that the State party ensure that asylum seekers and refugees can exercise all rights enshrined in the Convention.

Access to justice (art. 13)

  1. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     The low awareness among the judiciary and law enforcement officials concerning human rights of persons with disabilities;

(b)     The information about persons with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities who do not receive appropriate support in exercising their legal capacity and access to justice;

(c)      The barriers for persons with disabilities in access to civil legal aid as a consequence of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 in England and Wales and the introduction of fees for employment tribunals in the State party; and

(d)     The regulations excluding persons with hearing impairments from participation in jury-procedures, and that personal assistants/interpreters are not considered to be procedural accommodation.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities:

(a)     Develop and implement capacity building programmes among the judiciary and law enforcement personnel, including judges, prosecutors, police officers and prison staff, about the rights of persons with disabilities;

(b)     Design and implement a decision-making regime with guidelines and appropriate resources, focusing on respect of will and preferences of in particular persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities in court proceedings;

(c)      Provide free or affordable legal aid for persons with disabilities in all areas of law and remove fees to access Court and Employment Tribunals;

(d)     Ensure that all persons with disabilities are provided with the right and adequate procedural accommodation within the justice system, and enable in particular deaf persons through the use of sign language interpreters to fully and equally participate as jurors in court proceedings; and

(e)      Take measures to empower persons with disabilities to work in the justice system as judges, prosecutors or other positions, with provision of all necessary support.

Liberty and security of the person (art. 14)

  1. The Committee is concerned that the State party legislation provides for involuntary, compulsory treatment and detention both inside and outside hospitals on the basis of actual or perceived impairment.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Repeal legislation and practices that authorise non-consensual involuntary, compulsory treatment and detention of persons with disabilities on the basis of actual or perceived impairment; and

(b)     Take appropriate measures to investigate and eliminate all forms of abuse of persons with disabilities in institutional facilities.

Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (art. 15)

  1. The Committee is concerned about the continued use of physical, mechanical and chemical restraint, including the use of Taser guns and similar weapons on persons with disabilities that affects persons with psychosocial disabilities, in prisons, the youth justice system, health-care and education settings, as well as practices of segregation and seclusion. The Committee is deeply concerned that these measures disproportionally affect black or other persons with disabilities belonging to ethnic minorities. It is also concerned about the absence of a unified State party strategy to review these practices. The Committee is further concerned at the permissible use of electro-convulsive therapy, across the devolved governments and particularly in Northern Ireland, and the excessive antipsychotic medication in England and Wales.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Adopt appropriate measures to eradicate the use of restraint for reasons related to disability within all settings, and prevent the use of Taser guns against persons with disabilities, as well as practices of segregation and isolation that may amount to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment;

(b)     Set up strategies, in collaboration with monitoring authorities and national human rights institutions, in order to identify and prevent the use of restraint for children and young persons with disabilities;

(c)      Implement the outstanding recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into deaths in detention of adults with mental health conditions, aimed at enhancing art. 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (See EHRC, (February 2015), Preventing Deaths in Detention of Adults with Mental Health Conditions: An Inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and

(d)     Prohibit and withdraw practices of non-consensual electro-convulsive therapy on the basis of any form of impairment, in all regions, and in particular work through appropriate authorities to ensure monitoring of this development in Northern Ireland.

Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (art. 16)

  1. The Committee is concerned about abuse, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or exploitation to women, children, intersex people and elderly persons with disabilities, and the insufficient measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities. It is further concerned at the information on cases of disability hate crime, in absence of consistent data collection and differences in legal provisions for sentencing different types of hate crime, particularly in England and Wales.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities, and in line with target 16.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals:

(a)     Establish measures to ensure equal access to justice and to safeguard persons with disabilities, particularly women, children, intersex people and elderly persons with disabilities from abuse, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or exploitation;

(b)     Define comprehensively the offense of disability hate crime, and ensure appropriate prosecutions and convictions; and

(c)      Ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities, in line with article 16 (3) of the Convention.

Protecting the integrity of the person (art. 17)

  1. The Committee is concerned that persons with disabilities, including women, intersex people, girls and boys with disabilities, are reported to continue to be subjected to involuntary medical treatment, including forced sterilization, and conversion surgeries.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party repeal all types of legislation, regulations and practices allowing any form of forced intervention and surgeries, and ensure that the right to free, prior and informed consent to treatment is upheld and that supported decision-making mechanisms are provided, paying particular attention to women, intersex people, girls and boys.

Liberty of movement and nationality (art. 18)

  1. The Committee is concerned regarding the reservation to article 18 of the Convention.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party withdraw its reservation to article 18 of the Convention.

Living independently and being included in the community (art. 19)

  1. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     That legislation fails to recognise living independently and being included in the community as a human right which enshrines individual autonomy, control and choice, as intrinsic aspects of the right to independent living;

(b)     Policies and measures that affect the ability to live independently in the community, such as the lowering of social protection schemes related to housing, household income and budgets for independent living, as well as the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

(c)      The transferred responsibility to the devolved administrations and local authorities for supporting independent living without providing appropriate and earmarked budget allocation;

(d)     The fact that many persons with disabilities are still institutionalised and deprived of the right to live independently and being included within the community, when: i) persons with disabilities lack financial resources to afford personal assistance ii) local authorities are of the opinion that they can provide assistance within care homes, and iii) cost rationale constitutes the main parameter of an assessment; and

(e)      The lack of support services and accessible public facilities, including personal assistance, for persons with disabilities, regardless of sex, gender, age and other status, to live independently and be included in the community.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with the Committee’s General Comment no. 5 (2017) Living independently and being included in the community and the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1):

(a)     Recognise the right to living independently and being included in the community as a subjective right and the enforceability of all its elements and adopt rights-based policies, regulations and guidelines for ensuring implementation;

(b)     Conduct periodic assessments in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities to address and prevent the negative effects of the policy reforms through sufficiently funded and appropriate strategies in the area of social support and living independently;

(c)      Provide adequate and sufficient and earmarked funding to local authorities and administrations, the devolved governments and overseas territories to be able to provide resources allowing persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community and to exercise their right to choose their place of residence and where, and with whom to live;

(d)     Set up a comprehensive plan, developed in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, aimed at deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities, and develop community-based independent living schemes through a holistic and crosscutting approach, including education, childcare, transport, housing, employment and social security; and

(e)      Allocate sufficient resources to ensure that support services are available, accessible, affordable, acceptable and adaptable sensitive to different living conditions for all persons with disabilities in urban and rural areas.

Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information (art. 21)

  1. The Committee notes with concern:

(a)     The lack of accessible information from public services and authorities and obligatory standards for making websites accessible and monitoring of ICT-accessibility;

(b)     The insufficient resources for education, training and availability of and access to high-quality educated sign language interpreters, especially in relation to education, employment, health and leisure activities; and

(c)      The lack of training and education of families, classmates, co-workers in high-quality sign language communication providing better abilities for inclusion within the community.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in consultation with organisations representing persons with disabilities:

(a)     Develop obligatory standards securing accessibility to information channels based on ICT-technology;

(b)     Ensure that legislation provides for the right to educated high-quality sign language interpretation and other forms of alternative communication in all spheres of life for deaf persons and hard of hearing persons in line with the Convention; and

(c)      Allocate resources for education of children with hearing impairment, their families and others, such as classmates or co-workers in British Sign Language and tactile language.

Respect for private and family life (art. 23)

  1. The Committee is concerned that parents with disabilities do not receive appropriate services and support, resulting in children being removed from the family environment and placed in foster care, group homes or institutions. It is also concerned at the insufficient funding for parents of deaf children to learn sign language.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Ensure appropriate support for parents with disabilities to fulfil effectively their role as parents and that disability is not used as a reason to place their children in care or remove their child from the home; and

(b)     Ensure that local authorities have the legal duty to allocate and provide funds for parents wishing to learn sign language.

Education (art. 24)

  1. The Committee takes note of the information provided by the State party of the continuing process to assess the possibility to withdraw its reservation to article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party speed up the process aimed at withdrawing its reservation to article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention.
  3. The Committee is concerned at:

(a)     The persistence of a dual education system that segregates children with disabilities to special schools, including based on parental choice;

(b)     The number of children with disabilities in segregated education environments is increasing;

(c)      The education system is not geared to respond to the requirements for high-quality inclusive education, in particular the practices of school authorities turning down enrolment of student with disability who is deemed ‘as disruptive to other classmates’; and

(d)     Education and training of teachers in inclusion competences is not reflecting the requirements of inclusive education.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, especially organisations representing children and young persons with disabilities, and in line with the Committee’s general comment No. 4 (2014) on inclusive education, and Sustainable Development Goal 4, targets 4.5 and 4.8:

(a)     Develop a comprehensive and coordinated legislative and policy framework for inclusive education, and a timeframe to ensure that mainstream schools foster real inclusion of children with disabilities in the school environment and teachers and all other professionals and persons in contact with children understand the concept of inclusion and are able to enhance inclusive education;

(b)     Adopt regulation, monitor development and offer remedies in combating disability-related discrimination and/or harassment, including deciding upon schemes for compensation;

(c)      Adopt and implement a coherent strategy, financed with concrete timelines and measurable goals, on increasing and improving inclusive education. The strategy must:

(i)      Ensure the implementation of laws, decrees and regulations improving the extent and quality of inclusive education in classrooms, support provisions and teacher training, including pedagogical capabilities, across all levels providing for high-quality inclusive environments, including within breaks between lessons and through socialisation outside “education time”;

(ii)     Setup initiatives raising awareness about and support to inclusive education among parents of children with disabilities; and

(iii)    Provide sufficient, relevant data on the number of students both in inclusive and segregated education disaggregated by impairment, age, sex and ethnic background, and further provide data on the outcome of the education reflecting the capabilities of the students.

Health (art. 25)

  1. The Committee is concerned about the uneven access to health across the State party, including the devolved governments and overseas territories, and about:

(a)     Systemic, physical, attitudinal and/or communicative barriers preventing persons with disabilities from accessing mainstream health services including: inaccessible furnishing, training and treatment equipment, medicine and supplies, means of information and communication, limited access to clinics and healthcare professionals, hospitals, dentists, gynaecologists and obstetricians;

(b)     Barriers for persons with disabilities to obtain privacy regarding management of personal health-related data;

(c)      Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and lack of information and family planning education in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities;

(d)     The reports about cases of non-attempting resuscitation of persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities; and

(e)      The suicide rate among persons with disabilities, its higher prevalence in particular in Northern Ireland.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with representative organisations of persons with disabilities:

(a)     Develop a targeted measurable and financed plan of action aiming at eliminating barriers in access to health care and services, monitor and measure its progress, especially in relation to persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, and neurological and cognitive conditions;

(b)     Set up protocols for medical services that respect the right to privacy in information about health of persons with disabilities;

(c)      Ensure equal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, as set out in target 3.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, provide information and family planning education for persons with disabilities in accessible formats, including Easy Read;

(d)     Ensure that medical professionals are under the obligation to enforce standards set up in guidance and criteria on ‘Do Not Resucitate’ orders on an equal basis with others; and

(e)      Address the high suicide rate among persons with disabilities, especially persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities.

Work and employment (art. 27)

  1. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     The persistent employment gap and pay gap for work of equal value of persons with disabilities unemployed especially women with disabilities, psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities as well as persons with visual impairments;

(b)     The insufficient measures of affirmative actions and provision of reasonable accommodation improving the possibility of employment for persons with disabilities on the open labour market, despite the obligations contained in the European Union Directive 2000/78/EC on non-discrimination in the work place;

(c)      The process related to the Employment and Support Allowance and that the Work Capability Assessment emphasises a functional evaluation of skills and capabilities, rather than recognising the interactions between impairment and barriers in society faced by persons with disabilities; and

(d)     The upholding of the reservation by the State party to article 27, which disproportionally affects persons with disabilities actively involved in military matters.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, and in line with the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1):

(a)     Develop and decide upon an effective employment policy for persons with disabilities aimed at ensuring decent work for all persons with disabilities, bearing in mind the target of one million jobs for persons with disabilities and envisaged by the State Party, and ensure, equal pay for work of equal value, especially focusing on women with disabilities, persons with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities as well as persons with visual impairments, and monitor development;

(b)     Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to all persons with disabilities who require it in the workplace, that regular training on reasonable accommodation is available to employers and employees without disabilities, and that dissuasive and effective sanctions are in place in cases of denial of reasonable accommodation;

(c)      Ensure that legal and administrative requirements of the process to assess working capabilities, including the Work Capability Assessment, and those who conduct the assessments are qualified in line with the human rights model of disability, and take into consideration work related as well as other personal circumstances. The State party must ensure adjustments and support necessary to access to work and recognise financial support not subjected to sanctions or job seeking activities;

(d)     Withdraw its reservation to article 27 of the Convention; and

(e)      Bear in mind the links between article 27 of the Convention and target 8.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Adequate standard of living and social protection (art. 28)

  1. The Committee is concerned about:

(a)     The impact of austerity measures and antipoverty initiatives, as a consequence of the financial crisis in 2008/2009, which resulted in higher levels of poverty among persons with disabilities and their families, in particular among families with children with disabilities;

(b)     The negative impact on the standard of living of persons with disabilities, as a consequence of, among others, the reduction in social support, unemployment allowance, independent payment/budget, the Universal Credit and the insufficient compensation for disability-related costs;

(c)      The tightening of eligibility criteria and local differences to social protection and support during the transition from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) within the State party that has reduced the standard of living for persons with disabilities and their families; and

(d)     The detrimental impact of the Employment and Support Allowance’s conditionality and sanctions on persons with disabilities and the limited access to reconsideration and repeal procedures.

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities across all territorial entities, including overseas territories, and in line with the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1), guided by article 28 of the Convention and implementing target 10.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals:

(a)     Introduce, adopt and implement legislative frameworks to ensure that social protection policies and programmes across the State party secure income levels for all persons with disabilities and their families, by taking into account the additional costs related to disability, and ensuring the possibility of persons with disabilities to exercise their parental responsibilities. The State party must ensure that persons under the new Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group access to full compensation of disability related costs. 

(b)     Carry out a cumulative impact assessment, with disaggregated data, about the recent and coming reforms on the social protection for persons with disabilities, and in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities define, implement and monitor measures to tackle retrogression in their standard of living and use it as a basis for policy development across the State party; and

(c)      Repeal the Personal Independent Payment (Amendment) Regulations of 2017 and ensure that eligibility criteria and assessments to access Personal Independent Payments, the Employment Support Allowance, and the Universal Credit are in line with the human rights model of disability;

(d)     Ensure sufficient budget allocation for local authorities to accomplish their responsibilities regarding assistance for persons with disabilities, and extend support packages to mitigate negative impacts of the social security reform in Northern Ireland; and

(e)      Conduct a review of the conditionality and sanction regimes concerning the Employment and Support Allowance, and tackle negative consequences on mental health and situation of persons with disabilities.

Participation in political and public life (art. 29)

  1. The Committee is concerned at the lack of information on accessibility and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities, during all stages of the electoral cycle, including the facilitating of their exercise of the right to vote, vote in private and be assisted by an assistant of one’s own choice. It is also concerned about the low number of persons with disabilities running for or holding elected public office.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party in close consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities, take appropriate measures to secure accessibility for persons with disabilities, regardless of type of impairment, and repeal all provisions restricting the right of persons with disabilities to vote and stand for election, and further to adopt measures to guarantee the right of universal, secret suffrage.

Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport (art. 30)

  1. The Committee is concerned that the State party has not ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. It is further concerned upon the low level of accessibility to sport stadiums allowing for individual seating for persons with disabilities and their families, friends and personal assistants; and to the national heritage buildings and environments, including those appointed as UNESCO heritage.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Take all necessary steps to ratify and implement the Marrakesh Treaty as soon as possible; and

(b)     Adopt a concrete plan of action with resources and measurable objectives to implement legislation, regulation and standardisation securing persons with disabilities access to inclusive participation and activities to all sports facilities, the heritage and UNESCO appointed environments.

  1. Specific obligations

Statistics and data collection (art. 31)

  1. The Committee is concerned at the lack of unified data collection system and indicators across all devolved governments and overseas territories, concerning the situation of persons with disabilities. It also notes the limited disaggregated data collection in surveys and censuses on the general population.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with Goal 17of the Sustainable Development Goals, increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by, among others, income, sex, age, gender, race, ethnic origin, migratory asylum-seeking and refugee status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts, including in all general population surveys and censuses. It also recommends that the State party use the sets of questions and tools developed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics for the collection of comparable disability statistics.

International cooperation (art. 32)

  1. The Committee is concerned that the State party is not yet systematically including the rights of persons with disabilities across their international cooperation and development programmes.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities in the countries where they work:

(a)     Expedite the process to update the Department for International Development’s Disability Framework, including by adopting measurable targets and specific commitments to advance the rights of persons with disabilities in the countries where they work;

(b)     Put in place the necessary measures to ensure that all relevant departments of the State party spending Overseas Development Assistance systemically monitor and include persons with disabilities in their international development and cooperation; and

(c)      Carry out a consultation process involving organisations of persons with disabilities into all policies and programmes aimed at implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, nationally as well as internationally.

National implementation and monitoring (art. 33)

  1. The Committee notes with concern the lack of comprehensive mechanisms and sufficient resources that limit the Office for Disability Issues in its mandate to coordinate the implementation of the Convention across the State party as provided by article 33 (1) of the Convention.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party set up an appropriate coordinating structure of focal-points, sufficiently funded to strengthen the implementation of the Convention in all devolved governments and Overseas Territories.
  3. The Committee is concerned about the lack of resources available for the effective and comprehensive monitoring conducted by the independent monitoring framework established in accordance with article 33 (2) of the Convention, which hinder the support to organisations of persons with disabilities to participate in the monitoring process.
  4. The Committee recommends that the State party in all its entities, ensures the independence of and provide for sufficient funding of both established monitoring frameworks and organisations of persons with disabilities to be able to carry out the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention across the State party, bearing in mind the guidelines on independent monitoring frameworks and their participation in the work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD/C/1/Rev.1, annex).

Cooperation and technical assistance

  1. Under article 37 of the Convention, the Committee can provide technical guidance to the State party on any queries addressed to the experts via the secretariat. The State party can also seek technical assistance from United Nations specialized agencies with offices in the country or the region.
  2. Follow-up

Dissemination of information

  1. The Committee requests that the State party, within 12 months and in accordance with article 35, paragraph 2, of the Convention, provide information in writing on the measures taken to implement the Committee’s recommendations as set forth in paragraphs 45, 57, and 59, above.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party, in close cooperation and collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities, initiate a process to implement and follow-up the recommendations issued by the Committee on its report adopted pursuant to proceedings under article 6 of the Optional Protocol (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1) and provide information to the Committee on the progress and achievements of the process every 12 months until the next periodic examination takes place.
  3. The Committee requests the State party to implement the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations. It recommends that the State party transmit the concluding observations for consideration and action to members of the Government and Parliament, officials in relevant ministries, devolved administrations, Crown Dependencies, Overseas Territories, local authorities, organizations of persons with disabilities and members of relevant professional groups, such as education, medical and legal professionals, as well as to the media, using modern social communication strategies.
  4. The Committee strongly encourages the State party to involve and financially support civil society organizations, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities, in the preparation of its periodic report.
  5. The Committee requests the State party to disseminate the present concluding observations widely, including to non-governmental organizations and representative organizations of persons with disabilities, and to persons with disabilities themselves and members of their families, in national and minority languages, including sign language, and in accessible formats, including Easy Read formats, and to make them available on the government website on human rights.

Next periodic report

  1. The Committee requests the State party to submit its combined second, third, and fourth reports by 8 July 2023 and to include in them information on the implementation of the recommendations made in the present concluding observations. The Committee invites the State party to consider submitting the above-mentioned reports under the Committee’s simplified reporting procedure, according to which the Committee prepares a list of issues at least one year prior to the due date set for the report of a State party. The replies of a State party to such a list of issues constitute its report.

                                               

                                *   As adopted during the eighteenth session of the Committee (14 -31 August 2017)

 

 Posted by at 13:42
Sep 042017
 

Press release – A ‘human catastrophe’ – New UN condemnation for UK disability rights record

DDPOs PRESS RELEASE
31st AUGUST 2017
 
A ‘human catastrophe’ – New UN condemnation for UK human rights record
The UK Government’s claim to be a ‘world leader in disability issues’ has today been crushed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK, following its first Review of the government’s compliance with the Convention.
The highlights of the press conference held by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People at this afternoon are:
·       The Committee has made the highest ever number of recommendations to the UK.
·       The UK’s retrogression in ensuring Independent Living is a major concern. There is not adequate funding, resulting in too much institutionalisation.
·       There is a significant problem with Deaf and disabled people’s standard of living. Disabled people continue to be disadvantaged in employment, and are not adequately compensated for disability by the state.
The Observations conclude last week’s public examination of the UK Government’s record on delivering disabled people’s rights. The examination was declared by the UK rapporteur Mr Stig Langvad, to be “the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee”. Mr Langvad raised deep concerns on the UK Government’s failure to implement the rights of disabled people. He also noted the government’s “lack of recognition of the findings and recommendations of the (2016) Inquiry” which found ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights’.
Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) were hailed as the genuine “world leaders” for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.
The UK Delegation of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations has issued the following joint statement:
“Today the UN(CRPD) Committee has, once again, condemned the UK Government’s record on Deaf and Disabled People’s human rights. They have validated the desperation, frustration and outrage experienced by Deaf and Disabled people since austerity and welfare cuts began. It is not acceptable for the UK Government to ignore the strong and united message of the disability community.
UK Government representatives committed during the review to rethinking the way they support Deaf and Disabled People to monitor our rights. We welcome this commitment.  However, we are clear that our involvement must be genuine and inclusive and that we cannot accept anything less than progress on delivering the human rights enshrined in the Convention, and denied us for too long.
DDPOs have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with following a long campaign of challenging the Government’s blatant disregard for the lives of Deaf and disabled people in the UK. The unity and solidarity demonstrated by the Committee and the UK Independent Mechanism in supporting our calls for justice continue to strengthen us.”
 
Quotes from DPPOs:
Tara Flood, Director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) said, “We are delighted that the Committee has highlighted the Government’s shocking disregard for the human rights of Disabled children and young people to be included in mainstream education and we welcome the Committee’s call for a strategy to end the segregation and institutionalisation of children and young people from their families and communities. As the Chair of the Committee, Theresia Degener, stated last week ‘inclusive education is not a choice, it is a human right’. Our work to turn that right into a reality begins today with renewed energy and the force of the world alongside us!”
Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chairman of the British Deaf Association said, “We were impressed with the openness of the committee to listen to our evidence and apply their significant legal experience. Therefore we are glad to see that the committee has expressly recommended that the UK government finally legislate to protect language rights of deaf people.
So many of the committee’s remarks related to this, from failings in healthcare and education for deaf people, to the exclusion of deaf jurors. Deaf people have been passed over too long; there can now be no doubt that the government has been taken to task.
Without language rights, we have no human rights.”
Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, said: “This is a damning verdict by UN disability rights experts on the failure of the UK Government  to protect or uphold Disabled people’s rights. The UN conclusions reflect Deaf and Disabled people’s our own lived experience, in stark contrast to the UK Government position which continues to be one of denial, spin, misinformation and frankly disdain for Disabled people and our organisations and the mountain of evidence that shows things are going terribly wrong, as well as disdain for the UN process itself. We very much hope that these damning concluding observations and recommendations will be the wake-up call the Government needs to begin pro-actively working with us to get the protection and implementation of our rights back on track and begin to restore justice and fairness to UK Government policy.”
Ellen Clifford, National Steering Group of Disabled People Against Cuts said: “The Concluding Observations reflect how seriously the UN disability committee are taking the situation in the UK, with the highest number of recommendations ever given by them. In the press conference today members again stated that the UK is going backwards in critical rights such as the right to live in the community with adequate support and the human cost of government austerity measures. They have also been clear in their expectation that the government needs to take on board the findings of their inquiry which found evidence of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. It is utterly shameful that this should be happening in one of the richest nations in the world. We all now need to take a stance that enough is enough and demand that the Government acknowledge reality.”
John McArdle and Dr Stephen Carty of the Scottish based Black Triangle Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights said:
‘Black Triangle Campaign has campaigned unrelentingly for the work capability assessment regime to be scrapped and was instrumental through our medical adviser Dr Stephen Carty of Edinburgh in making British Medical Association national policy in 2012 that, in the words of the motion which was passed and remains BMA national policy:
‘The WCA should be scrapped with immediate effect to be replaced with a rigorous and safe assessment regime that does not cause avoidable harm’ to sick and/or disabled people.
Today’s comment from the Chair of the CRPD as reported by Reuters News Agency that the fit for work assessment regime has created a “human catastrophe” for sick and/or disabled people confirms this.
The British government must now halt the assessment regime immediately and replace it working together with DDPOs and the BMA.
Not to do so will ensure that this catastrophic harm continues unabated.’
Equal Lives CEO, Mark Harrison said:
“We welcome this condemnation of UK Government policy towards disabled people by the UN. When the Chair of the disability committee described the situation that disabled people face as a ‘human catastrophe’ she was reflecting what Norfolk’s disability community has been experiencing over the last 7 years.  In a very short space of time we have gone from having some of the best rights in the world to a crisis situation where people are dying because of the barriers and discrimination caused by austerity.  Equal Lives is here to support disabled people of all ages to live as equal and active citizens.  We will continue to speak out and campaign for equality and justice until the Government recognises its responsibilities and changes course”.
Notes to editors:
·       The OHCHR Press Conference (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) announcing the Concluding Observations takes place from 13:00 GMT:
·       The Concluding Observations will be published on the Committee’s webpage at 6pm GMT:
·       DDPOs across the UK have worked in coproduction to collect evidence and compile the reports through the Review process. The delegation of DDPOs present in Geneva w/c 21st August 2017 included Disability Rights UK, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales, Disability Action Northern Ireland, the Reclaiming our Futures Alliance, British Deaf Association, People First Scotland, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Disabled People Against Cuts, Inclusion London, Equal Lives, Black Triangle, Sisters of Frida, Black Mental Health UK.
·       Contributions were also received from Innovations in Dementia, HFT and Intersex NGO Coalition.
·       On 23rd and 24th August the examination of the UK Government took place in Geneva, with the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People. The report of the dialogue can be found here, with links to submission documents:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21993&LangID=E
·       The committee postponed its assessment of the UK (originally due in 2015) to investigate a complaint of the violation of disabled people’s rights as a result of welfare reform. This was brought under the optional protocol of the Convention. The findings expressed concern of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights. That investigation looked only at a part of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People – with a particular focus on the impact of austerity measures and welfare reform. The Review looked at a much wider set of issues, including our laws on mental health and mental capacity, policies on employment and education and more.
·       A lay person’s guide to the Review process and Examination can be found here: www.disabilitywales.org/crpd17
 Posted by at 13:35
Aug 312017
 

The UK Government’s claim to be a ‘world leader in disability issues’ has today been crushed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK, following its first Review of the government’s compliance with the Convention.

 

The highlights of the press conference held by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People at this afternoon are:

  • The Committee has made the highest ever number of recommendations to the UK.
  • The UK’s retrogression in ensuring Independent Living is a major concern. There is not adequate funding, resulting in too much institutionalisation.
  • There is a significant problem with Deaf and disabled people’s standard of living. Disabled people continue to be disadvantaged in employment, and are not adequately compensated for disability by the state.

 

The Observations conclude last week’s public examination of the UK Government’s record on delivering disabled people’s rights. The examination was declared by the UK rapporteur Mr Stig Langvad, to be “the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee”. Mr Langvad raised deep concerns on the UK Government’s failure to implement the rights of disabled people. He also noted the government’s “lack of recognition of the findings and recommendations of the (2016) Inquiry” which found ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights’.

 

Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) were hailed as the genuine “world leaders” for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.

 

The UK Delegation of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations has issued the following joint statement:

 

“Today the UN(CRPD) Committee has, once again, condemned the UK Government’s record on Deaf and Disabled People’s human rights. They have validated the desperation, frustration and outrage experienced by Deaf and Disabled people since austerity and welfare cuts began. It is not acceptable for the UK Government to ignore the strong and united message of the disability community.

 

UK Government representatives committed during the review to rethinking the way they support Deaf and Disabled People to monitor our rights. We welcome this commitment.  However, we are clear that our involvement must be genuine and inclusive and that we cannot accept anything less than progress on delivering the human rights enshrined in the Convention, and denied us for too long.

 

DDPOs have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with following a long campaign of challenging the Government’s blatant disregard for the lives of Deaf and disabled people in the UK. The unity and solidarity demonstrated by the Committee and the UK Independent Mechanism in supporting our calls for justice continue to strengthen us.”

 

Quotes from DPPOs:

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said, “It is a relief to see that the UK Government’s appalling treatment of disabled people has been called out by the UN Committee. The Concluding Observations give a clear sense of direction for the UK and devolved Governments. We welcome Welsh Government’s commitment to a strengthened Framework for Action on Independent Living since much of the implementation of the UNCRPD is devolved to Welsh Government.

However, as a devolved nation, it is not possible to entirely mitigate the impact of UK austerity policies and we will continue to join forces with our sister organisations across the UK in our quest to safeguard disabled people’s human rights in Wales.”

 

Tara Flood, Director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) said, “We are delighted that the Committee has highlighted the Government’s shocking disregard for the human rights of Disabled children and young people to be included in mainstream education and we welcome the Committee’s call for a strategy to end the segregation and institutionalisation of children and young people from their families and communities. As the Chair of the Committee, Theresia Degener, stated last week ‘inclusive education is not a choice, it is a human right’. Our work to turn that right into a reality begins today with renewed energy and the force of the world alongside us!”

 

Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chairman of the British Deaf Association said, “We were impressed with the openness of the committee to listen to our evidence and apply their significant legal experience. Therefore we are glad to see that the committee has expressly recommended that the UK government finally legislate to protect language rights of deaf people.

So many of the committee’s remarks related to this, from failings in healthcare and education for deaf people, to the exclusion of deaf jurors. Deaf people have been passed over too long; there can now be no doubt that the government has been taken to task.

Without language rights, we have no human rights.”

 

Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “We were proud to give evidence to the committee alongside other deaf and disabled people’s organisations. The UK government should now cut the rhetoric and start delivering on these excellent recommendations.

 

“Along with a host of other issues, the committee rightly voiced concern at the use of compulsory mental health detention and treatment. The seemingly endless rise in the numbers of people with mental health problems being detained or forcibly treated in the community is a daily reminder that human rights violations do take place in the UK. We back the committee’s call for changes to the law in this area.”

 

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, said: “This is a damning verdict by UN disability rights experts on the failure of the UK Government  to protect or uphold Disabled people’s rights. The UN conclusions reflect Deaf and Disabled people’s our own lived experience, in stark contrast to the UK Government position which continues to be one of denial, spin, misinformation and frankly disdain for Disabled people and our organisations and the mountain of evidence that shows things are going terribly wrong, as well as disdain for the UN process itself. We very much hope that these damning concluding observations and recommendations will be the wake-up call the Government needs to begin pro-actively working with us to get the protection and implementation of our rights back on track and begin to restore justice and fairness to UK Government policy.”

 

Ellen Clifford, National Steering Group of Disabled People Against Cuts said: “The Concluding Observations reflect how seriously the UN disability committee are taking the situation in the UK, with the highest number of recommendations ever given by them. In the press conference today members again stated that the UK is going backwards in critical rights such as the right to live in the community with adequate support and the human cost of government austerity measures. They have also been clear in their expectation that the government needs to take on board the findings of their inquiry which found evidence of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. It is utterly shameful that this should be happening in one of the richest nations in the world. We all now need to take a stance that enough is enough and demand that the Government acknowledge reality.”

 

John McArdle and Dr Stephen Carty of the Scottish based Black Triangle Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights said:

‘Black Triangle Campaign has campaigned unrelentingly for the work capability assessment regime to be scrapped and was instrumental through our medical adviser Dr Stephen Carty of Edinburgh in making British Medical Association national policy in 2012 that, in the words of the motion which was passed and remains BMA national policy:

‘The WCA should be scrapped with immediate effect to be replaced with a rigorous and safe assessment regime that does not cause avoidable harm’ to sick and/or disabled people.

Today’s comment from the Chair of the CRPD as reported by Reuters News Agency that the fit for work assessment regime has created a “human catastrophe” for sick and/or disabled people confirms this.

The British government must now halt the assessment regime immediately and replace it working together with DDPOs and the BMA.

Not to do so will ensure that this catastrophic harm continues unabated.’

 

Equal Lives CEO, Mark Harrison said:

“We welcome this condemnation of UK Government policy towards disabled people by the UN. When the Chair of the disability committee described the situation that disabled people face as a ‘human catastrophe’ she was reflecting what Norfolk’s disability community has been experiencing over the last 7 years.  In a very short space of time we have gone from having some of the best rights in the world to a crisis situation where people are dying because of the barriers and discrimination caused by austerity.  Equal Lives is here to support disabled people of all ages to live as equal and active citizens.  We will continue to speak out and campaign for equality and justice until the Government recognises its responsibilities and changes course”.

 

Notes to editors:

  • The OHCHR Press Conference (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) announcing the Concluding Observations takes place from 13:00 GMT:

https://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpHomepages)/15406DAB6CB569F080256F04006E8812?OpenDocument

  • The Concluding Observations will be published on the Committee’s webpage at 6pm GMT:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1158&Lang=en

  • DDPOs across the UK have worked in coproduction to collect evidence and compile the reports through the Review process. The delegation of DDPOs present in Geneva w/c 21st August 2017 included Disability Rights UK, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales, Disability Action Northern Ireland, the Reclaiming our Futures Alliance, British Deaf Association, People First Scotland, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Disabled People Against Cuts, Inclusion London, Equal Lives, Black Triangle, Sisters of Frida, Black Mental Health UK.
  • Contributions were also received from Innovations in Dementia, HFT and Intersex NGO Coalition.
  • On 23rd and 24th August the examination of the UK Government took place in Geneva, with the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People. The report of the dialogue can be found here, with links to submission documents: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21993&LangID=E
  • The committee postponed its assessment of the UK (originally due in 2015) to investigate a complaint of the violation of disabled people’s rights as a result of welfare reform. This was brought under the optional protocol of the Convention. The findings expressed concern of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights. That investigation looked only at a part of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People – with a particular focus on the impact of austerity measures and welfare reform. The Review looked at a much wider set of issues, including our laws on mental health and mental capacity, policies on employment and education and more.

Inquiry report, 2016: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/InquiryProcedure.aspx

Ellen Clifford on 07505 144371 or ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk or Natasha Hirst on 029 2088 7325 / 07825 211775 or Natasha.hirst@disabilitywales.org

For comment on intersex genital mutilation, please contact StopIGM.org, Daniela Truffer and Markus Bauer, at nella@zwischengeschlecht.info or +41 76 398 06 50

Follow progress on social media:

#CRPD17 #DDPOsGeneva17 #DefendOurRights

 

 Posted by at 19:06
Aug 312017
 

Place: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL

Time: 10.30am

Date: Friday 1 September 2017

 

Tomorrow, 1 September, the Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement in the a case of R (on the application of Davey) v Oxfordshire County Council).  This is the first case under the Care Act 2014 to reach the Court of Appeal and is critical in determining how far the legislation supports Disabled people’s well-being, choice and control and independent living. (1)

 

The case was brought by Luke Davey, a Disabled person with high support needs, whose support package has been slashed after the closure of the Independent Living Fund (2).  The Equality and Human Rights Commission and Inclusion London (3) both intervened in the case, which highlights the situation many Disabled people are going through at the moment with care packages being cut to the bone by cash strapped Local Authorities.

 

The judgement will follow Concluding Observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People published today, which raise serious concerns over how the UK is going backwards in upholding Disabled people’s right to live independently and be included in the community. (4)

 

Anne Novis MBE, Chair of Inclusion London said: “Many Disabled people need social care support to do some of the basic things in life that many non-Disabled people take for granted.  Without adequate levels of support more and more Disabled people are existing not living – trapped at home without support, choice or control, excluded from participating in, and contributing to, community life. Although The Care Act and the introduction of the wellbeing principle were meant to transform social care and put us and our wellbeing at the centre of the process, we know it does not happen in practice.   Disabled people tell us their support packages are being cut to the bare minimum and their views don’t matter.  Such cuts leave Disabled people at risk of harm, and cause emotional, physical and mental distress. We hope the judges will hear our concerns.”

 

Disabled people will gather outside the court as the judgment is handed down in solidarity with Luke and the hundreds of thousands of Disabled people affected by the crisis in social care.

 

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact Svetlana Kotova: Svetlana.kotova@inclusionlondon.org.uk 07853246229

 

Notes to Editors

 

  1. The initial decision in the Davey case could be found here http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2017/354.html
  2. The Independent Living Fund was closed in June 2015 with responsibility for meeting the full care and support needs of Disabled people transferred to Local Authorities and the devolved administrations. Evaluations of its closure have revealed a dramatic post code lottery with some English Local Authorities making substantial cuts. Research carried out by Inclusion London looking at the situation for ex-ILF recipients one year after closure points to the lack of enforcement measures in the Care Act 2014 and due to the loss of entitlement to legal aid the difficulty people face in making a legal challenge against cuts:  https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/news/ilf-one-year-on/. The government’s own evaluation records serious negative impacts:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/584417/independent-living-fund-post-closure-review.pdf
  3. Inclusion London intervention was supported by Deighton Pierce Glynn.  Inclusion London is a London-wide Deaf and Disabled people’s organisation. We promote equality for the capital’s 1.2 million Deaf and Disabled people and provide capacity-building support to London’s Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations. For more information: www.inclusionlondon.org.uk.
  4. See paras 44 and 45 here:  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1158&Lang=en

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 19:04
Aug 312017
 

This is really important. When the Remploy factories were closed, the government promised to look after the disabled people who worked there, and a fund was set up for them.

What happened to them? How many were given another job?   You can tell your story to the BBC.  Read below:

 

I’m doing some research for the BBC into what has happened to people who used to work in government-supported Remploy factories. If you worked for Remploy when the factories were closed in 2013, or know somebody who did, please get in touch either by email (sean.clare@bbc.co.uk) or on my mobile (07730575867). There were 2,000 people employed by Remploy factories when state funding was withdrawn. I’m trying to find out what happened next. This is not for reporting at this stage and any information provided will be treated with complete confidence.

 Posted by at 15:13
Aug 282017
 
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-761f-Disabled-people-and-their-concerns-can-no-longer-be-ignored#.WZ9EjD595dg

Disabled people and their concerns can no longer be ignored

ELLEN CLIFFORD and ANITA BELLOWS report on how disability rights activists brought evidence of the Tories’ savage policies to the United Nations

Thursday 24th Aug 2017

DEAF and disabled people’s organisations from across Britain have come together this week to give evidence about Westminster’s continuing violations of disabled people’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of Disabled people (UNCRPD), with a delegation that includes representatives from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, as well as Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Action Northern Ireland.

There are two parallel processes. The UNCRPD committee will simultaneously hear about British progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, as part of a periodic review of all nations that are signed up to the convention, as well as a presentation following up on the initial complaint made by DPAC under the optional protocol of the CRPD, which triggered the first inquiry against a state under this process.

The periodic review is wide-ranging and covers detentions under mental health legislation, employment, education, transport, housing, social care and independent living, specific discrimination against women, black people, intersex people, people with learning difficulties and so on.

On Monday August 21, deaf and disabled people’s organisations from across Britain gave a presentation in front of the committee in a closed session.

We highlighted the gaps in state provisions which undermine the government’s claim that the Westminster government’s public spending on disability and incapacity is higher than all other G7 countries bar Germany.

The issue is complicated by devolution and the different laws and arrangements which exist in the four nations.

What came out of the meeting was that not only has the Westminster government failed to progress CRPD implementation, but that rights hard fought for by disabled people have been dramatically eroded since 2010 by cuts. This has led us to today’s state of crisis where high numbers of people with learning difficulties and autism are trapped in institutions, there has been a rise in disabled children educated in special schools and the destruction of community support is leading to greater marginalisation and isolation of disabled people.

Following the closed session, deaf and disabled people’s organisations will have the chance to arrange meetings with individual committee members on specific matters such as access to justice, before the committee quizzes the Westminster government representatives on August 23-24. These examination sessions will be open to the public and livestreamed.

Also this week, the CRPD committee heard a follow-up presentation on the specific issues which triggered its inquiry in 2015 which found evidence of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by the Westminster government due to welfare reform.

These violations were closely related to welfare reform and the devastating and disproportionate impact on disabled people. The investigation carried out by the committee was indepth, involving reading thousands of pages of evidence and reports and a visit to Britain where disability committee members spoke to over 200 disabled people and organisations.

However, the government rejected the findings and dismissed the inquiry report as “patronising and offensive,” questioning the competence of the committee members.

The CRPD committee’s report was leaked to the Daily Mail the day before the US election. The response from the government was dismissive and totally ignored the committee’s conclusions.

One specific demand was for the government to undertake a cumulative impact assessment of the cuts, something that it has consistently refused to do.

This week disabled people had the chance to give a presentation on the worsening of the situation since that inquiry took place and the new cuts and measures that have been introduced without consultation or by bypassing Parliament and scrutiny — including the cut to personal independence payments brought in at the start of the year that will affect 164,000 people, predominantly those who experience psychological distress.

One major concern that disabled people have is around proposals outlined in the government green paper Work, Health and Disability: Improving Lives.

Its purported aim is to reduce the disability employment gap, but key measures it introduces will extend conditionalities and sanctions to more disabled people, ignoring calls from the National Audit Office to follow up on its initial examination of the impact of sanctions on disabled people, which suggests they actually lower chances for disabled people of finding employment.

For the government, the default position is that all disabled people are able to work, or able to do some work, if given the right incentives and motivation to do.

Using the flawed argument that work is the best way out of poverty, when more and more people in work are getting poorer, the government has devised a regime even more coercive than the previous one, for which impairments are something temporary which can be overcome with willpower and the right mindset. This government is a step away from denying the existence of disability.

Reflecting on the long journey, which has taken disability activists to the United Nations, there is some grounds for optimism.

The inquiry and its outcome mean that disabled people and disability issues can no longer be ignored. Their experiences have been validated by the inquiry’s findings, and the CRPD provides a framework for expressing our grievances and holding the government to account that is missing from domestic legislation. The fight is far from being over, but disabled people have become a vocal and powerful force in Britain.

  • Ellen Clifford is campaigns and policy manager for Inclusion London and Anita Bellows is a Disabled People Against Cuts activist.
 Posted by at 16:01
Aug 262017
 

UN Perioidic review of UK

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21993&LangID=E

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reviews report of the United Kingdom

GENEVA (24 August 2017) – The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of the United Kingdom on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Karen Jochelson, Head of the Office for Disability Issues, Department of Work and Pensions of the United Kingdom, presenting the report, said that the 2010 Equality Act, implemented in England, Scotland and Wales, strengthened the protection against discrimination on the basis of disability, recognized indirect disability discrimination, and went further in protecting disabled people.  The United Kingdom had set a clear goal to get one million more disabled people and people with health conditions into work over the next 10 years; it was determined to be a place that worked for everyone and ensure that disability did not indicate the path that a person took in life.  The commitment to those ambitions was not altered by the decision to leave the European Union.  It was through discussions with civil society that the United Kingdom Government and devolved administrations had adopted the terms “disabled people”, which was the best fit with the national understanding of the social model of disability.  The country remained committed to thinking how to remove physical, social and environmental barriers to enable disabled people to realize their aspirations and potential, and to working with disabled people, civil society and businesses to find solutions.

The United Kingdom Independent Mechanism and its constituent members drew attention to the continued gaps in legal protection provided by the Equality Act 2010, and said that the legislation in Northern Ireland provided a lower level of protection from disability discrimination than in the rest of the United Kingdom.  They warned that the planned exit from the European Union might pose a significant risk of regression in disability rights protection and urged the Government to ensure this did not happen.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts noted that access to the human rights enshrined in the Convention was uneven across the country and stressed that the responsibility of the State party to ensure the recognition and protection of human rights in all its parts could not be decentralized.  The claim to be a leader in disability rights carried responsibility, Experts said and urged the United Kingdom to withdraw its reservations to the Convention.  Persons with disabilities were heavily dependent on the outcome of the negotiations towards the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and must be included in those negotiations, Experts stressed.  They expressed great concern about the social cuts which had led to a human tragedy as they completely disregarded vulnerability and asked about measures to address this situation.  There was a high representation of persons of African and Caribbean origin in psychiatric institutions, and a disproportionate use of the Mental Health Act against people of African descent, Experts said.  The issue of access to justice was raised as well, particularly in terms of physical accessibility and access to information, while concern was expressed that the 2012 Law on Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act placed undue burden on persons with disabilities in requesting legal aid in discrimination cases.  The delegation was also asked about measures to reduce poverty among persons with disabilities, including those in work, tangible measures to fulfil the promise of creating jobs for one million persons with disabilities in 10 years, and how the Government was building the capacity of mainstream education providers to be more inclusive of children with disabilities.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Jochelson said that in going forward, the United Kingdom would reflect on the three key learning points from this dialogue, namely the emphasis on engaging with disabled people and their organizations in decision and policy-making, availability of data to demonstrate the impact of policies on disabled people, and the importance of the involvement of disabled people in awareness raising.

Representatives of the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism and its constituent members stressed that there must be swift progress on two key issues: the United Kingdom and devolved governments must safeguard and strengthen disabled people’s rights and put in place a cohesive and coordinated approach, and a United Kingdom-wide plan to implement the Committee’s recommendations.

Stig Langvad, Committee Rapporteur for the United Kingdom, said that the dialogue demonstrated the differing perceptions of the implementation of human rights in the United Kingdom and urged the country to take appropriate measures to address the recommendations from the Committee’s inquiry report.  Many States considered the United Kingdom to be an example to follow, thus it had a special obligation to set high standards and realize the rights of persons with disabilities enshrined in the Convention.

The delegation of the United Kingdom included representatives of the Office for Disability Issues, Department of Work and Pensions, Department for Education, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport, Ministry of Justice, Department for Health, Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Government Equalities Office, representatives of the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, Northern Ireland executive, as well as members of the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee’s public meetings in English and Spanish, with closed captioning and International Sign Language, are webcast at http://webtv.un.org/

The Committee will meet in public at 10 a.m. on Friday, 25 August, to hold a day of general discussion on the right of persons with disabilities to equality and non-discrimination (article 5), as part of the process leading to the preparation of a draft general comment on that matter.

Report

The initial report of the United Kingdom can be read here: CRPD/C/GBR/1.

Presentation of the Report

KAREN JOCHELSON, Head of the Office for Disability Issues, Department of Work and Pensions, said that the United Kingdom had a long and proud history of furthering the rights of disabled people and it had introduced in 1970 the world’s first legislation recognizing and giving rights to disabled people.  The 2010 Equality Act, implemented in England, Scotland and Wales, strengthened the protection against discrimination on the basis of disability, recognized indirect disability discrimination, and went further in protecting disabled people.  While the legislative framework and the commitment to the Convention provided a strong framework for ensuring and protecting the rights of disabled people, the United Kingdom recognized that there was more to be done in all aspects of society and life to progressively realize the Convention articles, and it was taking positive steps towards this.

The United Kingdom had set a clear and time-bound goal to get one million more disabled people and people with health conditions into work over the next 10 years.  In England, the Children and Families Act 2014 had introduced important reforms to the provisions for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 would support disabled people with mental health conditions to ensure they were treated on an equal basis.  Scotland had published a new Accessible Travel Framework in 2016 and had funded an Inclusive Communication Hub.  The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2015 provided the statutory framework to deliver the Welsh Government’s commitment to transform social services to improve the well-being of people needing care and some carers.  The United Kingdom was determined to ensure that it was a place that worked for everyone and that disability did not indicate the path that a person took in life.  The commitment to those ambitions was not altered by the decision to leave the European Union, stressed Ms. Jochelson, adding that the commitment to the Convention was also unaltered by the recent optional protocol proceedings and the differences of views between the United Kingdom and the Committee.

It was through discussion with civil society that the United Kingdom Government and devolved administrations had adopted the terms “disabled people” rather than “persons with disabilities”, and there was a cross-sector agreement that this term best fit with the United Kingdom’s understanding of the social model of disability, which informed its approach to policy.  The United Kingdom strongly acknowledged the very real value of the social model, which underpinned the Convention; it remained committed to thinking how to remove physical, social and environmental barriers to enable disabled people to realize their aspirations and potential and would continue to work with disabled people, civil society and businesses to find solutions.  Ms. Jochelson then provided a constitutional overview of the United Kingdom to provide context for the dialogue and noted that the United Kingdom Government had responsibility in England and retained responsibility United Kingdom-wide for certain policies, such as immigration and defence.  The Governments for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had legislative responsibility for major areas of public policy, including health, education, housing and in Northern Ireland and Scotland, justice.  The Office for Disability Issues took a leading role as the United Kingdom focal point for the Convention, but the responsibility for driving the progressive implementation of the United Kingdom’s obligations reached across the administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Although not part of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom retained responsibility for the international representation of the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories at the United Nations.  The Convention was still to be extended to those countries and the United Kingdom was working with the territories to support and encourage the extension of this Convention, concluded Ms. Jochelson.

Statement by the National Human Rights Institution

The United Kingdom Independent Mechanism and its constituent members drew the attention of the Committee to the continued gaps in legal protection provided by the Equality Act 2010, while the legislation in Northern Ireland provided a lower level of protection from disability discrimination than in the rest of the United Kingdom.  Third parties continued to make decisions for disabled people on the basis of their perceived best interests, and legislative attempts to promote supported decision making had not led to the required paradigm shift.  In Scotland, disabled people continued to be omitted from the key policy areas concerning them, and a range of policies, while positive in intent, were not adequately supported to deliver disabled people’s rights in practice.  In Northern Ireland, the Committee should urge the reform of the Disability Discrimination Act, examine the under-representation of disabled people in public life, and call for the greater participation of disabled people in the development of disability strategy.  In England and Wales, the Committee should recommend a full review of the impact of changes to legal aid on disabled people.  The United Kingdom continued to overstate the ability of the Equality Act 2010 to make the Convention a reality, although it did not cover the full scope of the Convention.  The planned exit from the European Union might pose a significant risk of regression in disability rights protection and the United Kingdom Government must ensure this did not happen.

Questions from the Committee Experts

STIG LANGVAD, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the United Kingdom, took positive note of the live webcasting of this dialogue, which was a way to democratize human rights and to enable persons with disabilities from all over the world to utilize and claim their rights.

Access to the human rights enshrined in the Convention in the United Kingdom was too limited and uneven across the country, said the Rapporteur, recalling the great responsibility of the State party to ensure that human rights were recognized and protected in all its parts; this responsibility could not be decentralized, stressed Mr. Langvad.

Persons with disabilities in the United Kingdom were heavily dependent on the outcome of the negotiations towards the implementation of the so-called Brexit.  This was the first time that the Committee was witnessing a State party which was going through a significant process of transition that brought uncertainty to all people living in its territory, particularly persons with disabilities, and the Rapporteur encouraged the United Kingdom to inform the Committee, in detail, on how representative organizations of persons with disabilities would be involved in the negotiations on the withdrawal from the European Union.

The Rapporteur expressed hope that this dialogue would significantly contribute to the positive narrative of the importance and impact of the United Nations and stressed that it was vital to show the value and efficiency of the United Nations in those times where human rights were under philosophical and political pressure and disregarded by many actors.

The United Nations Member States had committed to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda which was in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and action must be taken to implement this agenda.

Mr. Langvad said he was deeply moved by the overwhelming interest in the dialogue on the situation of persons with disabilities in the United Kingdom, its devolved governments and overseas territories, and said that over the last two years, the Committee had received more than 2,000 pages of input from the United Kingdom, human rights institutions, civil society and especially the many organizations representing persons with disabilities.  The numerous contributions had been supplemented by the findings of the inquiry report adopted by the Committee pursuant to article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which concluded that there were grave and systematic violations of rights of persons with disabilities in the State party.  Its recommendations would be taken into account in this dialogue, said the Rapporteur.

This was the time to go beyond highlighting the initiatives already decided upon on the journey toward implementing the Convention, but now was the time to identify the missing initiatives within the policies and regulations of the State party.

A Committee Expert inquired about the involvement of persons with disabilities and representative organizations of persons with disabilities in decision-making in matters that concerned them.  The Committee had received reports about discrimination against persons with disabilities in the area of housing and the delegation was asked about steps taken to address the matter.

How was the human rights-based approach of disability understood and applied in the efforts to implement the Convention?

Women with disabilities experienced disproportionate levels of violence and abuse, with several barriers in accessing services and support.  Furthermore, the United Kingdom was yet to ratify the Istanbul Convention.  Could the delegation comment?

What steps were being taken to reduce the poverty level among persons with disabilities, to eliminate bullying of children with disabilities in the school environment, and to raise awareness of the public about the rights of persons with disabilities?

The United Kingdom’s statement that it was consulting with representative organizations of persons with disabilities had been disputed by those very organizations, remarked an Expert and asked the delegation to inform on the consultative mechanisms in place, how persons with disabilities participated in the decision-making and in the legislative processes, and how they were involved in awareness raising campaigns and activities.

Which mechanism was in place to enable children with disabilities to express themselves and to provide to their needs in accordance with their understanding?

What could explain the high rate of suicide among persons with intellectual disabilities?

An Expert asked about regular and targeted measures to overcome negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices against persons with disabilities, particularly persons with dementia and autism, and persons with intellectual or learning disabilities.

What efforts were in place to provide access to the Internet, both public and private websites, and to e-books?  What accessibility standards would be used following the exit from the European Union, and how would the United Kingdom promote accessibility nationally and globally?

The delegation was further asked about accessible measures of support to women with disabilities who were victims of violence or domestic violence, and about the specific measures adopted to give women with disabilities access to education, employment and justice.  What was being done to tackle poverty levels among children with disabilities, and what were the reasons behind the high poverty levels among families with disabled members?

A Committee Expert expressed concern about the high representation of persons of African and Caribbean origin in psychiatric institutions and asked what was being done to end the disproportionate use of the Mental Health Act against people of African descent in the United Kingdom, and end its use as a veritable tool of the State’s oppression against their communities.

What was the monitoring mandate of the Office for Standards for Education, Children Services and Skills in relation to bullying in schools?

Much of the change had been brought to protect the rights of persons with disabilities through the Equality Act 2010; however, the way in which a person with disabilities could apply for legal aid, defined by the Legal Aid and Sentencing Act 2012, placed an undue burden on persons with disabilities in requesting legal aid in discrimination cases.  What was being done to ensure that persons with disabilities had equal access to goods and services?

The leading definition of disability stipulated within the Equality Act 2010 was not in line with the Convention, as it was more impairment than capacity based, hindered the disabled persons’ full and active participation in the society on an equal footing with others, and reflected the medical rather than social model of disability.  What were the plans concerning the bringing of the definition of disability in line with the Convention?

What support and protection was provided to children with disabilities whose parents had a disability, especially if the parents’ legal capacity was limited?  What were the plans to stop the institutionalization of children with intellectual disabilities and support families to care for their children?

What were the economic repercussions of Brexit on the benefits and resources for persons with disabilities?

The minimum accessibility standards were included in the law, remarked an Expert and asked how the needs of persons with disabilities, which were beyond the minimum standards, were met.  How accessible were rural towns and areas, and was there any disability sensitivity training provided to taxi drivers?  What was the plan concerning the adoption of mandatory information standards for the communication and correspondence with healthcare providers and social workers?

How were the efforts to implement the Convention coordinated between the devolved governments and overseas territories and how were the respective national human rights institutions consulted in the process?  What steps were being taken to harmonize the domestic legal framework with the Convention and to abolish all discriminatory laws and practices?

It was expected that the principle of equality and non-discrimination would apply across the United Kingdom territory, but this was not the case, remarked an Expert, quoting the gaps in the anti-discrimination law in Northern Ireland.  How would the United Kingdom bring the entire Equality Act 2010 in line with the Convention?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked about the treatment of intersex children in the United Kingdom, noting that their surgical treatment was regarded as a harmful practice by this and other Committees.

STIG LANGVAD, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the United Kingdom, remarked that the Committee and the United Kingdom had a different understanding of the overarching obligation to ensure the implementation of the Convention throughout the territory of the State party and in this context, asked how the United Kingdom would support the overseas territories, the Falkland Islands in particular, in their initiatives to analyse and address the living conditions of persons with disabilities.  What mechanism was in place to ensure streamlined and consistent implementation of the Convention in cooperation with persons with disabilities?  How were the United Kingdom and the devolved governments implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, and especially how were Goals 10 and 11 guided by article 9 and 11 of the Convention?
 
Response by the Delegation

The delegation stressed that the social model of disability was applied in the United Kingdom and it helped consider how to find solutions to the barriers that disabled people faced in daily life.

Disability was mainstreamed which meant that each Government had a responsibility for the development and implementation of the policies.  There were focal points in each of the devolved administrations to ensure that there was awareness about the Convention, and the public sector duties applied throughout the territory.  At the local level, it was the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Duty Act that ensured equality for the disabled people.

The “Fulfilling Potential Strategy” had been published in 2013; last year the United Kingdom had committed to reviewing it and would use the concluding observations from this dialogue to inform further steps.

Disabled people, who made up 21 per cent of the population, had a clear understanding of their situation and there were mechanisms for their participation and consultation; the United Kingdom was constantly seeking new ways of engagement.  In addition to consultation around proposed policies, disabled people were involved in the implementation of the Convention and holding the Government accountable.  One such mechanism was the accountability to the Parliament, which was accessible to disabled people.  Further consultation with disabled people and their organizations had been undertaken in the preparation of the report.

The United Kingdom’s ambition was to eliminate discrimination, including disability-based discrimination, and awareness raising on disability issues was an indispensable tool.  Considerable resources were being implemented on various activities to promote awareness, for example the disability confidence scheme would look at ways of reforming the attitudes of employers towards disabled people.

The United Kingdom was already a world leader in disability issues and leaving the European Union would not change this.  In practical terms, the laws applicable before the leave would apply after the leave as well.  All the European Union funding schemes were being reviewed and the United Kingdom was aware of the important contribution of the European Social Fund to the lives of disabled people.

The British sign language was recognized as an official language in 2003 and was considered as one measure of reasonable accommodation.  Most sign language interpreters were free-lance or consultants.

Northern Ireland was in the process of amending the Disability Act 1995.

A representative of the Government’s Equality Office said that the definition of disability in the Equality Act was focused on impairment and was not in line with the Convention, and went on to explain that reasonable adjustment looked at what service providers and employers could do to remove barriers; the public sector requested the authorities to consider disability in laws and policy.  The approach to dementia enshrined in the Equality Act was appropriate as it looked at how it impacted the person and his or her quality of life.

The United Kingdom did not have the plans to implement section 14 of the Equality Act which was related to red tape, because of the regulatory complexity and the assessed cost to business.  The introduction of a dual discrimination would create new complexity in the system, with potentially small benefits for disabled people, and it was considered that its use by disabled persons would be limited.  The Equality Act placed proactive equality duty on public bodies to consider effects on groups with protected status when designing policies of delivering services.

Legal aid provided equal access to justice for the highest priority applicants who met the eligibility criteria, including in disputes with local authorities, welfare benefit claims, discrimination and other instances.  The civil legal aid advice line was available to provide adjustments and so support clients who needed it, such as webcam for deaf clients, or the use of a support worker or family member to communicate on behalf of the client.  Published data on client disability on some areas was available since 2008 and for all areas from 2012 onwards.

With regard to reasonable adjustment during proceedings, the delegation said that this obligation under the Equality Act was taken seriously by the authorities.  The prison and probation services made every effort to learn from each death in custody, and the service had a statutory duty to respond to any concerns raised about a death in custody.

The 2012 suicide prevention strategy, updated in January 2017, set out key areas of action, and it included working with local agencies to develop local level strategies to take into account people with specific needs, including the disabled.  In 2015, the National Health Service had introduced the accessible information standard to enable persons with disabilities to effectively communicate with their health care providers.

On the protection of women and girls from violence and abuse, the delegate said that the Government recognized that different people had different needs and applied the principle that no one was turned away from the services they needed.  The new domestic abuse commissioner would play a key role in monitoring the delivery of services locally now.  The Government had announced the funding of £100 million between now and 2020 for the implementation of its strategy to prevent violence against women.  A mandatory duty had been introduced for frontline professionals to report all cases of female genital mutilation.  The United Kingdom was fully committed to the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and the first report on the act which would enable the ratification would be presented by November 2017.  The ratification could not happen before the country was fully in compliance with the Istanbul Convention, which at the moment it was not.

The national approach to the anti-bullying strategy in Scotland was being refreshed to enable all to deliver a holistic approach and to develop messages on online and offline bullying.  The guidelines would be published later this year.

England had made a major reform in the system of education and care of children and youth with special needs.  The 2014 Family Act enshrined the principle that children and youth and their families must be fully involved in decisions about the support and education they received, and to make sure that they were fully able to participate in decisions that involved them.  In cooperation with the Council of Disabled Children, a project had been developed to enable the children’s self-expression.

The reforms to the system of education and care of children and youth with special needs were fully underway in England and should be fully implemented by March 2018.  All changes were being carefully monitored and initial positive feedbacks were being received: for example, in a recent survey of more than 13,000 respondents, 73 per cent had agreed that the health, education and care plans had led to their children receiving the care and services they needed.

All disabled children were regarded as children in need and local authorities were required to monitor and promote their welfare, and to provide short breaks for the carers.  The United Kingdom was aware that more needed to be done to improve the mental health of children and young people and was investing £ 1.4 billion to 2020 to improve mental health services.  A Green Paper, to be published by end of the year, would contain proposals for the reform of mental health services for children and youth.

The provisions of the Equality Act had entered into force in April 2017 according to which drivers of taxies and private hire vehicles were prohibited from refusing a disabled customer, a customer with a service dog, and customers in wheelchairs.  It was also prohibited to charge such customers more.

The Welsh Government adopted the social model of disability in 2002 and in 2013 it adopted the framework for action to support independent living, in cooperation and consultation with disabled people.  The Welsh Government would set out a practical programme of action to tackle some of the key barriers identified by the disabled people.  Wales remained determined to reducing suicide rates by supporting initiatives and programmes aimed at preventing suicidal behaviour.

In terms of engagement with the disabled persons and their organizations in Scotland, the delegation reiterated the commitment to work with them and not for them, which was a paramount distinction.  For example, the disabled people had worked with the Government of Scotland to prepare A Fair Scotland, a delivery plan for the implementation of the Convention.  In October, Scotland would publish the first British sign language guidelines to promote the use of sign language.

Northern Ireland was developing an accessible transport strategy to address the transportation needs of all.  An access policy and a guide for disabled people had been developed and disabled people were being encouraged to participate in the consultations.

The digital services were revolutionising the way of life in the United Kingdom and it was vital to ensure that disabled people were not left out, including in access to the infrastructure, services and accessible websites.

Questions by the Committee Experts

A Committee Expert inquired about the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which allowed the limitation of legal capacity and the institutionalization of persons based on real or perceived lack of capacities and expressed concern about the increase in institutionalization.

Could the delegation comment on the reports of the illicit routine use of taser gun against patients in secure mental settings?  Would there be a complete ban on their use in psychiatric settings?

Had the United Kingdom evaluated the impact on access to justice for persons with disabilities of the 2012 Law of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, and what steps were being taken to mitigate the negative impacts?

Had there been any court cases against landlords who discriminated against tenants on the grounds of disability?

What measures had been taken to implement the recommendations made by different inter-parliamentary commissions on welfare reforms and the realization of the right to independent living?

Did the security and counter-terrorism personnel receive disability awareness and sensitivity training to take into account the needs of persons with disabilities and to communicate with them during counter-terrorism operations?

Under the new Care Act, how could a person with disabilities challenge a decision by the local authorities to reduce their care package?  Was jurisprudence on the matter available?

How was disability integrated in Britain’s humanitarian assistance?

What measures were in place to ensure that the inability to pay did not act as a barrier to accessing justice?

About 83 per cent of the public toilets for disabled people had been closed since 2013 – what was being done to turn this around?

How could women with disabilities who were victims of violence access services and protection, particularly women with disabilities and women deprived of legal capacity?

What measures would the United Kingdom take to harmonize the Equality Act with article 13, and to align the legal capacity legislation with article 12 of the Convention?

Was it true that deaf people were deprived of the right to perform their civic duty as members of a jury?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked about the support services granted to asylum seekers and refugees with psychosocial or intellectual disability.

Response by the Delegation

With regard to the engagement of disabled people, a delegate explained that the United Kingdom mainstreamed disability into the work of departments, which were then responsible for consultations with disabled people while developing policy.  The final Disability Strategy would be produced by 2018, and disabled people and their organizations were being consulted in the preparation of this document.  There was also a general engagement with the disabled people and their organizations: FLARE was an initiative to consult with the youth, the Office for Disability Issues regularly consulted with the leading charities, and there were regular meetings with the disabled people organizations.

The delegate also informed the Committee about the involvement of the disabled people in the work around the Global Disability Innovation Hub, a legacy of the 2012 London Paralympic Games, which brought together disabled people, communities, professionals and the private sector to drive innovation, co-design and creative thinking.  The ambition was for the Hub to become a leading centre for research and disability innovation in 10 years.

With regard to the implementation of the Convention in devolved administrations, the delegation said that the Welsh ground-breaking Wellbeing of Future Generations Act had placed the more equal Wales as a goal of all public policies and institutions and obliged public bodies to consider the impact of actions and policies on the people living in Wales now and in the future, acting as a guardian for future generations.  In Wales, the Disability Equality Forum was in place.

In Scotland, the Convention complemented the domestic legislation and the Government involved disabled people in its implementation.  The plan for the implementation of the Convention’s principles had been adopted recently and had been developed with the participation of disabled people.  Since the devolution, the funding for representative organizations of disabled people had increased every year, and recently a record level of over £ 2 million had been allocated for the funding of disabled people’s representative organizations to enable them to engage with the Government on issues and policies that affected their lives.  The funding also supported concrete projects, such as the Access to Elected Office Fund, through which 39 disabled people had been supported in running for election and 15 had been elected, making a significant contribution to the representation of the persons with disabilities in public life.

In Northern Ireland, all public bodies had a responsibility for the monitoring of the implementation of policies on disabled people, including through the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.  One of the six themes in the draft delivery plan for the Convention was to improve data collection systems and to that end, research had been commissioned on the issue which would be ready by end of the year.  It was planned to establish a Northern Ireland Disability Forum to give disabled people an opportunity to influence policy.

In 2016/2017, a total of 3,781 complaints of discrimination in the field of employment had been filed in the United Kingdom, which was an indication of the effectiveness of the legislation to ensure redress for the failure to provide reasonable accommodation.

In England and Wales, those using a civil court had to pay a fee; the fee was viewed, partially or in full, for those who qualified.  Most employment-related disability claims were handled by the Employment Tribunal; following the decision by the Supreme Court concerning the fee payment in disability-related discrimination cases in the field of employment, it had taken immediate action to stop the payment of fees and to reimburse those who had already paid it.

The Mental Health Act 2005 contained safeguards for the deprivation of liberty.

Under the Mental Health Act 1993, anti-psychotic medicine could be given for a period of three months without the consent of the patient, after this period, an opinion of the second doctor was required, as well as the approval of the Care Quality Commission.  The Government was committed to the reform of the Mental Health Act and one of the issues that would be examined was the disproportionate number of people of certain ethnicities, namely blacks, in mental health institutions.

On the reform of the disability benefits, the delegation said that the personal independence payment was a more focused benefit to provide financial assistance to people with extra costs associated with long-term care.  Currently, 28 per cent of the personal independence payment received the highest possible amount, which was £140 per week.

As far as independent living was concerned, in Scotland, the Independent Living Fund had been established in 2015 and it administered a £47.5 million per year fund to support persons with disabilities to live in the community.  As of March 2017, a total of 2,517 disabled people were the Fund’s beneficiaries.  A new scheme of £5 million had been introduced to support young disabled people making transitions in their lives.

The delegation explained the system in place to enable disabled people to serve as jurors and said that the system was in place to pass on the information, prior to a trial, about the required reasonable adjustment.  Jurors requiring third party assistance in the deliberation room, such as sign language interpreters, were currently disqualified because of the principle of 13 jurors and the obligation for the juries to deliberate in private.

The authorities in England and Wales regularly monitored the legal aid schemes to ensure they functioned properly.  Following a High Court judgement in 2015, changes were made to the eligibility criteria for legal aid and to the exception case funding scheme.  In 2016, the time allowed in domestic violence cases had been extended.  The number of people coming to court without legal representation had risen since the legal aid changes, said the delegate, noting that self-representation in court had always been a feature of the domestic court system.  A range of measures had been introduced to support those people representing themselves.

Wilful neglect, and abuse and exploitation in institutions had been criminalized, and all such cases could be reported to the Care Quality Commission.  There was an independent whistleblowing mechanism for professionals who could use it to report instances in which institutions failed to address properly cases of abuse.

The Independent Police Complaint Commission had paid attention to the issue of the use of tasers and important progress had been made in monitoring their use.  All the police officers were required to report the use of tasers, including the information about the persons affected.  The use of taser guns in mental health institutions had been brought to the attention of the Independent Police Complaint Commission, which was working with local authorities to address the issue.

In terms of accessibility, in Scotland, councils were required to consider the need for specialist provision that covered accessible and adapted housing, wheelchair housing and supported accommodation.  The policy “Designing Streets” had a strong focus on inclusive design and required public bodies to engage with disabled people.  Scotland was aware that transport was crucial to independent living and had published its first accessible travel framework in 2016, produced in close partnership with disabled people and their organizations.  The Strategy defined how the 48 key barriers to accessible travel would be addressed over the next 10 years.

The Welsh Housing Quality Standard applied on all housing, and it required the homes to suit the needs of residents, including those with disabilities.

In Northern Ireland, the executive had recently supported a master course in sign language interpretation, as a way to increase the number of interpreters in the communities.  The Department of Communication was in the process of analysing the results of the public consultation on the sign language interpretation which would make a basis for the plan of action in this domain.

Questions by the Committee Experts

In the last round of questions, Committee Experts asked about the barriers limiting access to the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities.  Which concrete measures were being taken to address the concerns of women with disabilities, particularly those with learning and intellectual disability, to access reproductive health services and information?

With regard to the employment of persons with disabilities, the delegation was asked about the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Green Paper on the employment of persons with disabilities, measures taken to address the pay gap between persons with disabilities and their peers, and efforts to reduce poverty among employed persons with disabilities.  Which tangible measures were being taken to fulfil the promise of creating jobs for one million persons with disabilities in 10 years?

With regard to inclusive education, the delegation was asked to explain who decided whether children with disabilities would attend mainstream school or special education school, whether the refusal to accept a child with disabilities in mainstream school was considered to be a failure to provide reasonable accommodation, and the steps being taken to transform the current special schools into inclusive education institutions.   How was the United Kingdom Government building the capacity of mainstream education providers to be more inclusive of children with disabilities?

Experts raised several questions related to the impact of the exit from the European Union, and asked about the intentions concerning the Accessibility Bill which was based on the European Union directive, and the position on the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.

An Expert remarked that 30 minutes of sign interpretation per month, which the television broadcast watchdog was requesting, was not enough.  What was being done to facilitate the participation of persons with disabilities in elections, including by providing information in accessible standards?

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, asked about steps taken to eliminate harmful practices against intersex persons and stop practices that amounted to torture and ill treatment, such as intersex genital mutilation.  Claiming to be a leader in disability rights carried responsibility, said the Chair and urged the United Kingdom to withdraw its reservations to the Convention.  The social cuts had led to a human tragedy as they completely disregarded vulnerability – what was being done to address this situation?

STIG LANGVAD, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the United Kingdom, asked for the disagreed data on pregnancies terminated on the basis of potential impairment of the foetus, and how the cost of independent living was calculated.  What would be the level of funding for the Office for Disability Issues in the future?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said that all those who were entitled to vote could do so, and disabled persons, as long as they were entitled to vote themselves, could ask for the assistance of the polling station personnel, or could bring a family member or a support person with them.  Polling stations must be accessible and were selected in consultation with the disabled people.  The Access to Elected Office Fund which had closed in 2015 had provided support to disabled people running for elections and the results and findings on its functioning would be published in due course.

The public consultations on accessible transportation were taking place today, 23 August, and were a step in the preparation of the Accessibility Strategy which would be adopted in 2018.

The delegation said the United Kingdom was strongly committed to inclusive education, noting that 98.6 per cent of English children with disabilities were educated in mainstream schools, and parental choice was at the heart of the system.  For some children, the best educational experience was offered by specialist schools, and it was expected that those schools closely collaborated with mainstream schools.  In terms of building the capacity of mandatory schools to educate children with disabilities, the delegation said that the statutory code was very clear in terms of expectations and that the 2016 teachers’ standards had a strong focus on meeting the needs of children with disabilities.  Each school had to appoint a special educational needs coordinator.

The decision on whether to take into care a child of parents with learning or intellectual disabilities rested ultimately with the court, which was independent from the State, and the objective was already to return the child back to the family environment as soon as possible.

Concluding Remarks

KAREN JOCHELSON, Head of the Office for Disability Issues, Department of Work and Pensions, said that for the delegation, three learning points from the dialogue were the emphasis on engaging with disabled people and their organizations in decision and policy-making, availability of data to demonstrate the impact of policies on disabled people, and the importance of the involvement of disabled people in awareness raising.   The United Kingdom would reflect on those points as it contemplated next steps and prepared the plan for the implementation of the Committee’s concluding observations.  Ms. Jochelson stressed that the United Kingdom was determined to remain a global leader in disability issues and said that this dialogue would certainly support it in this ambition.

In their closing remarks, representatives of the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism and its constituent members stressed the disconnect between the delegation’s replies and the lived experiences of disabled people, for example, the delegation claimed that legal aid provided equal access to justice and that social security was sufficient, in stark contrast to overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  There must be swift progress on two key issues: the United Kingdom and devolved governments must safeguard and strengthen disabled people’s rights and put in place a cohesive and coordinated approach, and a United Kingdom-wide plan, to implement the Committee’s recommendations.

STIG LANGVAD, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the United Kingdom, said that this dialogue was the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee and that it demonstrated differing perceptions of the implementation of human rights in the State party.  The Committee was deeply concerned that the United Kingdom still considered itself a leader despite its inconsistent disability policy, and urged it to take appropriate measures to address the recommendations contained in the Committee’s inquiry report.  The delegation had provided extensive information on the legal framework, however, the Committee was convinced that the existing legislation was not being adequately implemented and it failed to secure the rights of persons with disabilities throughout the State party’s territory.  Many States considered the United Kingdom to be an example to follow, thus it had a special obligation to set high standards and realize the rights of the persons with disabilities enshrined in the Convention.

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, thanked everyone for the constructive dialogue and hoped that the Committee’s concluding observations would help in the implementation of a human rights-based approach of disability in the United Kingdom.

__________

For use of the information media; not an official record

 

 Posted by at 12:14
Aug 212017
 

The UK government will be up in front of the UN Disability Committee next week on the 23 and 24 August answering questions on how far the UK Government is protecting and upholding the rights of Disabled people.

Photo: ROFA Delegates in Geneva earlier this year

Holding this government to account – Inclusion London and Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) members are giving evidence to the UN Disability Committee in Geneva

The UK government will be up in front of the UN Disability Committee next week on the 23 and 24 August answering questions on how far the UK Government is protecting and upholding the rights of Disabled people and implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

This is the first time the UK has been examined under the UNCRPD since the Government signed up to it in 2009. This routine scrutiny was originally due to take place in 2015 but was delayed due to the inquiry triggered by Disabled People Against Cuts and carried out by the UN disability committee which found reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights by the UK Government due to welfare reform.

Inclusion London and our sister ROFA organisations are part of a UK wide group of DDPOs going to Geneva to give evidence on the on-going retrogression and violation of our rights and the failure to implement the UNCRPD.

Not going to Geneva? You can still get involved!

 Posted by at 14:54
Aug 122017
 

Reblogged from UNITE LIVE http://unitelive.org/appalling-treatment/

If you are appalled at the treatment of the Co-op disabled employees, you can tell them on Twitter at @coopuk

HGV drivers employed by the Co-op at its West Thurrock distribution depot have begun balloting for industrial action over the ‘appalling treatment’ of their disabled colleagues.

The workers, who are members of Unite and who deliver to 600 Co-op stores in London and the south east, are extremely angry that three of their colleagues have been dismissed or are facing dismissal due to their disabilities.

The disabled drivers have for many years been provided with work they have been able to undertake. However this work is no longer available because of outsourcing or internal reorganisation.

Unite has argued that the workers should have been made redundant. The local Co-op management rejected this approach and instead opted to use a capability process which resulted in two of the workers being sacked and the third expecting the same treatment in the near future.

“The Co-op has acted in an appalling manner,” said Unite regional officer Paul Travers. “We have argued that the disabled drivers should have been made redundant because their revised duties were agreed under the Equalities Act as reasonable adjustments. The company knows the drivers are unable to deliver to stores and has been happy for them to undertake other driving roles, when it suited it and now it just wants to discard them.”

Unite are initially undertaking a consultative ballot of the workforce before proceeding to a full industrial action ballot. If the matter is not resolved then Unite anticipates that industrial action will occur in the weeks preceding Halloween and Bonfire night, which will cause widespread disruption. It could also cause problems in the pre-Christmas period.

Paul Travers added, “Unite remain available to resolve this matter; however the Co-op just keep telling us they have acted lawfully — a point that Unite and our members fundamentally disagree with.”

 Posted by at 13:59
Aug 092017
 
Calling all Disabled people and DDPOs – join us for an “Independent Living Care Act” vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice,  Strand, London WC2A 2LL on Thursday the 17th of August at 9.15 am.
On the 17th of August the Court of Appeal will hear the case of Davey v Oxfordshire County Council.  This is a first case under the Care Act  to reach the Court of Appeal and it is vital because it will determine how far the flagship Care Act goes in promoting our wellbeing, choice and control and independent living.
Inclusion London intervened in this case and the court will consider our arguments.  This is a first time a DDPO intervened in court proceedings before the Court of Appeal.
We want to make sure the judges understand how important this case is for many Disabled people. We invite as many of you as possible to show solidarity and support us by attending the vigil and the court of appeal hearing 
 Vigil
The vigil will take place on Thursday, the 17th of August, at the Royal Courts of Justice,  strand, London WC2A 2LL 
Starts at 9:15am.
The court hearing starts at 10:30. 
 If you are able to come, please let us know by emailing Svetlana Kotova at Svetlana.kotova@inclusionlondon.org.uk
 Posted by at 14:48
Aug 062017
 

If you’ve been sanctioned after being found fit for work, please get in touch with Frances Ryan (@DrFrancesRyan , Guardian journalist), She is looking for a severely disabled person who has been recently (within the last 2 years) found fit for work after having a Work Capability Assessment. and who has been sanctioned. As it is for Frances’s book, all information is confidential and is on ‘First names only’.
You can contact her by email at francesryan.journalism@gmail.com

 Posted by at 21:08
Jul 272017
 

INVITATION: from the Office for Disability Issues

 

The UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Periodic examination live streaming.

The Office for Disability Issues would like to invite you to attend this event, where you will be able to watch the live streaming of the face to face dialogue between the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (the Committee) and UK delegates.

Dates: 23rd August 2017   12:00-17:00

           24th August 2017     8:45 -12:00

 

Address: Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA.

Places are strictly limited and will be on a ‘first come’ basis, and will be limited to one attendee per organisation (plus a support worker if required).

Please note that the UK’s examination is also available to live stream from a place of your convenience via the UN’s website.

Please do RSVP your place as soon as possible by completing the form below and sending it to the email address: UN.CRPDINBOX@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK.

We will let you know with a confirmation email if you have a reserved place on the day of your choice.

 

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Please note that we are unable to cover the costs of travel, hotels or other related expenditure.

 

(If you do not wish to receive any further communications on the UK UNCRPD periodic examination please let us know.)

 

————————————————————–

Response to invitation

 

UNCRPD periodic live streaming

Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA

 

 

Receipt of this form will be taken as confirmation that you wish to attend.

Thank you for taking the time to let us know of any communication, access or dietary requirements.

 

 

Attendee information

 

Name:

 

Organisation:

 

Email:

 

Phone number:

 

Date you would like to attend.

 

………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

Communication or Access requirements

 

Please indicate any communication or access requirements below:

……………………………………………………………………………….

Do you require a support worker? Yes/No

Dietary requirements

 

Food will be provided at breakfast (24th August only) and lunch time (on both dates). Please do indicate if you have any specific dietary requirements below.

Jacqui Wyatt  | Office for Disability Issues | Department for Work & Pensions | Caxton House, Ground Floor, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA, 0207 449 7779 ext 64779

Jacqui.wyatt@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

 Posted by at 18:13
Jul 252017
 

New report calls UK Government to account over harmful Nuclear Weapons dependence

 

  • A new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, agreed by 122 countries on the 7 July 2017, re-opens questions about Britain’s continued possession of nuclear weapons.

  • Despite claiming to want a world without nuclear weapons, by boycotting the treaty negotiations, the UK is sidestepping global efforts to achieve multilateral disarmament.  

  • The UK has 120 ready-to-fire nuclear warheads in deployment; with a further 95 in reserve, but the credibility of these weapons for deterrence is crumbling.

  • Britain has an opportunity to demonstrate its diplomatic prowess and soft power to take a lead on multilateral disarmament and make the world safer – but only if the government is prepared to abandon its reliance on an increasingly redundant and dangerous approach to national security,.

 

25 July 2017: Medact, a public health charity that inspires the medical community to act on the social, political, ecological and economic determinants of health, today launches a new report calling the UK Government to account for aggressive Nuclear Weapons policies and continued funding of Trident.

 

The report, “A Safer World: Treating Britain’s harmful dependence on nuclear weapons”, follows swiftly after negotiations on a new international treaty that bans nuclear weapons concluded at the United Nations. The report hails the international significance of the treaty, and argues that the UK should now abandon its possession of nuclear weapons.

 

On 7 July 2017, the United Nations adopted a landmark agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

Despite government claims to support multilateral disarmament and a world without nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom, alongside other nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states, has boycotted the negotiations.

 

The report highlights that the dangers attached to the policy of nuclear deterrence have grown and explains why the high-risk gamble of states deploying thousands of active nuclear warheads will likely result in political, environmental and humanitarian disaster. .

 

Dr David McCoy, Director of Medact, says:

 

“We have produced a simple but cogent set of arguments that expose the flawed, dangerous and wasteful policy of possessing and modernising nuclear weapons. Deterrence, only believable as long as the world’s nuclear armories remain unused, is destined to fail. Whether caused by heightened tensions between nuclear states, or by factors such as cyber terrorism, software failures or accidents, it is just a matter of when, not if.” 

 

“This is not to suggest that multilateral disarmament would be easy. It would require a great deal of hard work, skillful diplomacy and some courage. But it can be done; and it must be done. This is our simple message as doctors and health professionals.”

 

“By abandoning our reliance on an increasingly redundant and dangerous approach to national security, Britain can demonstrate its diplomatic prowess and its economic and cultural influence r to take a lead on multilateral disarmament and make the world safer.”

 

Since biological and chemical weapons have been banned for over 20 years, the UN treaty represents an important step to outlaw the most dangerous Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMDs) of all, recognising that nuclear detonations, whether by accident or intention, would cause even greater catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

 

Dr Rebecca Johnson, president of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, says:

 

“Whether the UK government likes it or not, the majority of the world has made it clear they are serious about banning and eliminating nuclear weapons. This new Nuclear Prohibition Treaty will greatly increase the legal, economic and public pressures to halt Britain’s billion-pound spending spree on Trident”

 

A Safer World: Treating Britain’s harmful dependence on nuclear weapons is available here: www.medact.org/2017/resources/ reports/a-safer-world-treating -britains-harmful-dependence-o n-nuclear-weapons

 Posted by at 15:03
Jul 242017
 

Please watch the video:

DPAC began the fight back against the Tory/DUP minority government after the General Election in June with a week of action called #SummerOfDiscontent on14-21 July 2017 to highlight the impact of the Atos PIP assessments on disabled people’s lives and appalling impact of social care cuts and the lack of accessible transport and to support the RMT dispute to keep guards on trains. DPAC also supported the NUT Demo “carnival of cuts” to highlight the lack of funding for schools and highlight the deepening segregation of disabled students in schools.

 

DPAC activists joined the striking southern guards in solidarity on day 33 of the strike action at the RMT picket line at Victoria Station, London on Monday 10th July 2017 as Southern, Northern Arriva and Merseyrail guards went on strike to highlight the cutting of the train guards post on the three rail franchises and  that southern rail has rolled back the turn up and go on 33 of its stations on the southern rail network and the  rolling  back of disabled people’s freedom to ride, plus  highlighting the fact that 70 per cent of safety related incidents happen on 33 per cent of Driver only operated trainsl network.

 

On Friday 14th July 2017 began the DPAC week of action #SummerOfDiscontent which co incided with the opening ceremony of the Para Athletics World Championships at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford.  ATOS who carry out the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Contract for the DWP were partner sponsors for the event.  DPAC activists had an alternative opening ceremony outside the stadium to highlight the impact of PIP assessments on disabled people.  Activists handed out leaflets to members of the public to raise awareness of the distress of the PIP process and the impact on disabled people’s lives.

 

On Sunday 16th July 2017 DPAC activists supported NUT members on its demo in Central London called Carnival of Cuts.  DPAC members marched in solidarity with teachers, parents and school children to highlight the cuts to school budgets and to highlight the deepening segregation in schools with cuts to special education budgets and to support Lucy Cox and Tara Flood from ALLFIE who addressed the rally at Parliament Square about the impact of education cuts on disabled children’s lives.

 

Tuesday 18th July 2017 DPAC held a national day of action across the UK to highlight local cuts to services that disabled people use.  Bromley DPAC held a protest outside Bromley Central Library to protest against the sustainability development plans (STPs) for the NHS.  Bromley Health- Watch held a public meeting for residents to ask changes to ask questions about NHS changes in the local area.  Bromley DPAC activists joined with local NHS campaigners and held a protest outside the venue and asked local residents to sign a petition.  There was a question and answer session after the meeting which several Bromley DPAC activists asked questions to the NHS staff.

 

Thursday 20th July 2017 DPAC members were joined by Transport for All, Association for British Commuters and RMT activists and members of the RMT executive and Assistant General Secretary, Steve Hedley outside the Department of Transport to highlight the removal of train guards from Southern Rail and the importance of safety and access on the rail network.  A change.org petition with 4,000 signatures asking Department of Transport to reconsider the position to keep guards on trains was handed in to staff at the Department of Transport.  After speeches  DPAC members blocked the road outside Department of Transport for over 10 minutes asking the department of transport to keep guards on trains and look into the rolling back of turn up and go policy on 33 of its stations on the southern rail network.

 

The week of action ended on Friday 21st July 2017 where a DPAC campaign against ATOS began 5 years ago in 2012, at ATOS HQ, Triton Square, Nr Warren Street.  Activists from Winvisible, Unite Community and Kilburn Unemployed workers group joined DPAC members for the protest outside ATOS HQ.

The protest began with a march with the banner listing the names of disabled people who have died due to the impact of the welfare reforms.  Speeches soon followed, with a picnic and noisemakers.

Activists then marched to Warren Street with their banners and blocked warren street for over 10 minutes to highlight the impact of 7 years of Brutal Tory Austerity on disabled people’s lives.

 

Photos from the week of action: https://www.facebook.com/paula.peters.79/media_set?set=a.1574305842610760.1073742091.100000940783562&type=3

Photo credit: Paula Peters.

 Posted by at 21:36
Jul 242017
 

URGENT: Save disabled prisoner Tom McMeekin

from death by institutional neglect!

 

Please sign the petition for Tom McMeekin
Justice for vulnerable prisoners

https://www.change.org/p/sam-gyimah-justice-for-vulnerable-prisoners


by his mother Susan Goodwill.

Tom McMeekin is 23 and severely disabled. He was paralysed from the neck down after a car crash.In October 2016 he was sentenced to seven years in prison for dangerous driving. Lack of feeding and care in prison have caused rapid physical and mental deterioration, and life-threatening complications such as sepsis. He faces amputation of his legs for hip dislocation caused by bad positioning and moving by prison staff.

Tom McMeekin, now in HMP Moorland

Tom McMeekin had four passengers when the crash occurred, all his friends. Tragically two of his friends died and a third now uses a wheelchair. Tom was critically injured and is now unable to use his arms or legs or feed himself. He has heart and lung damage, has to use a nebuliser and be assisted to cough twice a day. He remembers nothing of the accident.

Disabled people are entitled to the care and support we need, wherever we are, at home or in prison. At HMP Leeds, Tom was placed on a prison healthcare wing run by the notorious company Care UK, which has been named in inquiries into deaths of vulnerable prisoners (see note 5), neglect in residential homes and in homecare contracts. Within a few months he had lost about 30 kilos (four stone 10lb). He had admissions to hospital due to a deep pressure sore, a lung infection, bladder infections and life-threatening sepsis. Little attempt was made to meet his basic disability equipment needs. He was then transferred to HMP Moorland where there is no medical wing. He is currently on a wing for over-55 year-olds and sex offenders, with an agency nurse to attend to him at night, though he says some nights there is no cover and medication is missed.

Tom’s suffering has been immense. He should not be in prison. No prison can provide the complexity of care and management he needs to avoid deterioration and even death from complications.A Judicial Review (JR) is being prepared to show Tom’s unnecessary deterioration and suffering. Due to cuts in legal aid, there is no legal aid for disabled prisoners to challenge the appalling conditions in which they are kept. After the JR is concluded, his new solicitor will petition for Tom’s case to be heard in the Court of Appeal to secure his release. There are no funds available for this appeal. Please sign the petition and keep in touch for news on how you can support.

 Posted by at 21:03
Jul 192017
 

Thank you to Gail Ward who put this together. You can read her blog here https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/the-2-yr-job-rule-for-disabled-on-universal-credit-is-not-true/ and follow her on twitter at @blueannoyed

 

In the last few days it has been widely reported by various bloggers that those disabled claimants claiming Universal Credit are subjected to finding a job within two years or face a 1 year sanction. This is utter fabrication and feeding many claimants fears which could potentially cause harm. So today I called Welfare Rights ,who called DWP while I remained on the phone, they denied that this information was correct and was downright alarmist and dangerous. That doesn’t mean I trust DWP and have submitted a FOI too given 7 years of shenanigans. So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts!

Those who will be put on Universal Credit (UC) will have to sign the claimant commitment regardless, some will be subjected to full conditionality some will have their conditionality limited depending on the circumstances, and subject to sanctions if they fail to comply with the agreed commitments they agreed with work coach via the Work Plan,My 4 steps,My Values documents.  (Document links provided at bottom of the blog.)

This is the article in question. Responses by DWP staff are in italics, and comments about the response in bold

As promised last night, the SKWAWKBOX has been looking further into conflicting reports from DWP insiders concerning the WRAG (work-related activity group) category into which the government, more or less arbitrarily, places some disability benefit claimants and the possibility of sanctions after a fixed period of two years under the Universal Credit (UC) system if claimants have not found work.

Some activists insisted that this was part of the UC system and this was initially confirmed by long-term DWP employees. Others subsequently disputed it. The only thing all were agreed on was that the rules are ill-conceived and extremely confusing.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted a PCS union official who specialises in UC for clarification and received this response: 

I’ve been looking at the regulations and I can’t find anything that refers specifically to a fixed time limit in which to find employment.

That is right, because no fixed time limit exists in the regulations

 

The ‘disabled’ argument, as I’m sure you are aware, is notorious because ultimately the Department through the provide contractors are essentially able to define who is fit or not for work.

For example, a claimant maybe moved from ESA to UC on the back of a WCA [Work Capability Assessment]. The claimant may disagree with the decision but they are stuck.

If they are adamant they are not fit for work, they could refuse employment in an environment they believe will affect their health.

If they have been found to have no Limited Capability for Work, they cannot refuse employment. The fact that claimants think they are unfit for work has been the main issue with the flawed WCA since 2008

 

This is where the sanction process comes in – a 13wk, 26wk and 156wk sanction could apply (although similar regs existed prior to UC and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act if not as harsh or severe).

In this case you’re looking at failure to apply, not accepting work or leaving on one’s own accord. Their argument is they aren’t fit, the department will still look at sanctions.

The circumstances described here apply to somebody who has not been found to have Limited Capability for Work.

 

The sanction regime is clearly arbitrary, deeply unfair and dangerous – but there is no rule mandating a fixed time-limit for a claimant to find work.

Again no time limit

 

However, another PCS/DWP source warned that while the rules don’t include such a limit, the way they are applied may not be as clear cut:

I can tell you that we have received complaints from WRAG claimants about having their ESA revoked after two years. And now they are treated as JSA claimants because they are ‘fit for work but not necessarily their precious occupation(s)’.

ESA cannot be revoked. It simply cannot be claimed after a claimant has been found fit for work. Previous occupations are not a consideration. That has always been the case.

 

Sanctions have been applied because the claimant has not fulfilled their requirement to find work. The purpose of the WRAG was to enable people to return to work despite being disabled, but this component has now been removed as WRAG claimants are now treated as jobseekers.

WRAG claimants under UC are described as having Limited Capability for Work.. They are not required to search for, be available for and start work, and cannot be sanctioned for not doing so, but they are required to accept work preparation requirements within their commitment and attend WFIs.

 

Other WRAG claimants have been booted off ESA or the sickness element of UC after a period of two years because they failed their WCA – deliberate decision to bully them back to work.

Some claimants will fail their WCA after 2 years. Others after 6 months, 12 months  etc.

2 years is actually a defined prognosis period, meaning a number of people are reassessed at this stage. Unless there is any evidence of a pattern, this period of 2 years is meaningless

 

Thanks too to Anita Bellows who has worked with me on this 🙂

 

So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts! 

https://www.scribd.com/document/353594773/4c-ESAHWC1

https://www.scribd.com/document/353595852/CC-O18-E15

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833734/CC-Work-Preparation-Activities-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/353603319/1359203507-UJcompanyleafletJCP

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185048/CC-Requirement-to-Accept-a-Claimant-Commitment-v2-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185364/cc-commitment-not-accepted-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185650/My-4-Steps-Template

https://www.scribd.com/document/354187257/1816-my-values-1-pdf

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517725/UC-Claimant-Committment

https://www.scribd.com/document/349520361/FTS-FTP-in-WFI-and-Failure-to-Undertake-Work-Related-Activity

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517543/Handout-08-01-Commitment-Pack-v7-7

https://www.scribd.com/document/354182466/Dealing-With-Sanctions-Facsheet-4

https://www.scribd.com/document/353627563/HWC-Exemptions

 

Read Frank Zola Blog below;

https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/disability-rights-uk-disrightsuk-questions-why-dwp-esa-health-work-conversation-mandatory-foi/

 Posted by at 18:31
Jul 192017
 

Today, DPAC went to Parliament to lobby MPs about the funding of social care and independent living as part of their Week of Action

The funding crisis in social care is having a very real and detrimental impact on Disabled people’s ability to live and take part in the community and the gap between the life chances of Disabled and non-Disabled people is widening. Read more about it here

The police was not initially allowing DPAC members into Parliament and they were held for a while in a gated area before making their way to the lobby area

While there, they decided to occupy the area, as they did a few years ago, and they received the support of MPs like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas and Bartley among others.

The event was well covered by the media, and you can see below some photos of the event

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/demonstrators-house-commons-pmqs-disability-cuts-protest-wheelchairs-parliament-entrance-block-a7848876.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/disabled-protesters-block-entrance-to-house-of-commons-in-campaign-against-cuts_uk_596f4e34e4b0a03aba864e5d?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/19/people-in-wheelchairs-block-mps-entrance-to-house-of-commons-to-protest-against-cuts-6791049/?ito=twitter

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2017/jul/19/pmqs-theresa-may-jeremy-corbyn-brexit-eu-wants-to-make-brexit-a-catastrophe-for-uk-says-senior-german-mep-politics-live?CMP=twt_gu

http://news.sky.com/story/protesters-in-wheelchairs-block-mps-entrance-to-the-commons-10953908

https://www.thecanary.co/2017/07/19/corbyn-mays-final-pmqs-summer-nearly-shut-today-wont-see-bbc-video/

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/furious-protesters-wheelchairs-block-house-10829364

 

 Posted by at 18:07
Jul 182017
 

Social care was one of the defining issues of the general election but the vast majority of coverage concentrated on funding for elderly care as opposed to independent living for Disabled people.  However, this year for the first time, the needs of disabled young people and people with mental health support needs have been identified as placing the greatest pressures on social care budgets over and above those of older people*. With further cuts planned of £824 million in 2017/18, the cumulative “savings” made to adult social care budgets since 2010 is set to reach £6.3 billion.

 

The funding crisis in social is having a very real and detrimental impact on Disabled people’s ability to live and take part in the community and the gap between the life chances of Disabled and non-Disabled people is widening. The most basic choices such as when to get up go to bed or use the toilet, when and what to eat, and the choice to leave the house are no longer in the hands of Disabled people but subject to Local Authority budget allocations which are becoming ever more restricted.

 

Leading figures in the disability rights movement have recently warned that the concept of personal assistance has been severely damaged by years of budget savings and policies that have “degraded” the support mechanisms designed to enable independent living.**

 

On an individual level this is devastating for Disabled people, locked away whether in their own homes, supported living or residential care. On a societal level this is a regression of the right to independent living and a return to a segregated society where Disabled people are separated from their communities and invisible to the wider public behind closed doors.

 

 

Disabled people and our allies are calling on government to ensure that the consultation on funding for social care promised by Prime Minister Theresa May for later this year will address the urgent issues of:

– upholding disabled people’s right to independent living,

– protecting our life chances and the futures of disabled younger people

– ensuring that Disabled people are not put at risk by fragile or lacking infrastructure to support personal assistance management

– enabling Local Authorities to fulfil their obligations under the Care Act 2014 including implementation of the well- being duty according to the principles set out in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (see paragraph 1.19 of the Care Act statutory guidance)

 

With assisted suicide back in the law courts this week, please join us to call on politicians to assist us to live not to die.

How to get involved:

  • Join us in Parliament on Wednesday to lobby our MPs (meet outside 11am)
  • Write to your MP
  • Watch this space for when Parliament returns from its summer recess in September

 

*2017 annual budget survey from ADASS (Association of Directors of Social Services)

** https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/years-of-austerity-have-left-personal-assistance-in-very-fragile-state/

 

 

Template letter to MP

 

I am writing to you as my constituent MP to ask for your support in calling for urgent action on the question of independent living for Disabled people and in ensuring that the consultation on funding for social care promised by Prime Minister Theresa May for later this year addresses the needs of Disabled adults as well as the elderly.

This year for the first time, the needs of disabled young people and people with mental health support needs have been identified as placing the greatest pressures on social care budgets over and above those of older people*. With further cuts planned of £824 million in 2017/18, the cumulative “savings” made to adult social care budgets since 2010 is set to reach £6.3 billion.

“Independent living” does not mean doing everything for ourselves without support but refers to the ability to live and be included in the community with the same choice and control over our own lives as non-Disabled people.

The funding crisis in social is having a very real and detrimental impact on Disabled people’s ability to live and take part in the community and the gap between the life chances of Disabled and non-Disabled people is widening. The most basic choices such as when to get up go to bed or use the toilet, when and what to eat, and the choice to leave the house are no longer in the hands of Disabled people but subject to Local Authority budget allocations which are becoming ever more restricted.

[Insert person situation]

On an individual level this is devastating for Disabled people, locked away whether in their own homes, supported living or residential care. On a societal level this is a regression of the right to independent living and a return to a segregated society where Disabled people are separated from their communities and invisible to the wider public behind closed doors.

We therefore urge the Government to ensure that the consultation on social care promised by Prime Minister Theresa May for later this year directly addresses the need to:

  • uphold disabled people’s right to independent living,
  • protect the life chances and futures of disabled younger people
  • ensure that Disabled people are not put at risk by fragile or lacking infrastructure to support personal assistance management
  • enable Local Authorities to fulfil their obligations under the Care Act 2014 including implementation of the well- being duty according to the principles set out in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (see paragraph 1.19 of the Care Act statutory guidance)
 Posted by at 18:43