Apr 172019

Meet: 4pm 25 April 2019, outside Facebook HQ, 1 Rathbone Square, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1FB. See the Event page

Join Disabled People Against Cuts, loud and proud, outside Facebook’s London HQ on 25 April to protest discriminatory treatment of disability-related pages. Last week, Facebook (FB) told Access Ability, in a recorded phone call that their site set up to empower disabled people had been blocked from inviting ‘likes’ by FB algorithms which block anything “that could be disturbing”. When challenged on this the FB employee stated that “some people find it disturbing to see pictures of disabled people”. She also said she had never before come across “a page that promotes disability” and seemed surprised at the idea.

DPAC spokesperson Bob Ellard said: “Facebook may have 21st century tech but they have shown themselves to have 19th century attitudes. The company makes billions in profits yet clearly lacks even basic anti-discrimination training for staff. Technology can change disabled people’s lives, with social media having played an important role in the development of disabled people led campaigns over recent years, but equal access doesn’t just need progressive technology, it needs progressive attitudes too. An algorithm is only as good as the people programming it.”

The protest is being supported by Models of Diversity, an organisation set up to promote equality and diversity in the fashion, beauty and media industries.

Founder, Angel Sinclair, says: “Models of Diversity are saddened by the disgusting treatment of Ability Access by Facebook last week. It is distressing to us that images of those with disability are considered ‘disturbing’ yet videos of ISIS murders and page 3 style nudity is acceptable. As a global organisation it is Facebook’s responsibility to educate its staff and make a stand against this kind of discrimination.”

Since the incident FB has explained the page was blocked because of an image showing a disabled woman who is disrobed. Whatever the reasons in this particular case, what was said by the employee in the telephone call was simply unacceptable. Moreover, other disabled campaigners from around the world have spoken out on twitter about similar difficulties with Facebook.

@Dominickevans, a Polish-American film-maker and activist commented: “They’ve been preventing me from inviting people to disability themed events I plan. Most people rely on me inviting them to know about the events happening, and it’s made me less likely to post events on Facebook.”

Disabled people and our allies want reassurances from FB that adequate steps will now be taken to protect disabled FB users from discrimination, including re-programming of algorithms as required to enable disability-related FB pages to promote their content, and that staff at all levels of the company will receive user led disability equality training.

If you are unable to join us but would like to send a message to Facebook for us to hand in please email mail@dpac.uk.net.

Support the protest on social media using the hashtag #DisabilityNotDisturbing

May 152012

Press release

Experts Say Landmark Judgement Will Stop Benefit System Discriminating Against Disabled

 Leading Lawyer Says Court of Appeal Ruling Confirms Government Has to Give Special Provision To Disabled People So That Human Rights Are Not Breached

Experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed a landmark judgement handed down at the Court of Appeal today which they say sets out clear guidance to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against by the Government’s benefit system.

Three families challenged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (DWP) which stated that local authorities could not provide housing benefit for extra bedrooms needed by four young disabled people who were living in private rented accommodation.

Public law experts at Irwin Mitchell, representing the lead case, said DWP breached the British Human Rights law by not allowing their housing benefit claims to be treated differently to those of non-disabled people, which would have given them the extra provision needed.

And their view was backed by the Court, who ruled that “without the benefit of the extra room rate, Ian Burnip would be left in a worse position than an able bodied person living alone”.

Polly Sweeney, Solicitor for Ian Burnip at Irwin Mitchell said, “This Judgment has widespread implications for policy-making and is crucial to promoting equality for disabled people and assisting them to live independently. Whenever the Government introduces new policies, or reviews existing policies, they now face a duty to ensure that appropriate provision is made for disabled people to ensure that discrimination does not occur.“

The Court recognised that the object of Ian Burnip’s claim was not to give him some form of preferential treatment, but merely to ensure that housing benefit can fulfil its intended function for those who are so severely disabled that they need 24 hour care.

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, said in his Judgment that:

“Disability can be expensive. It can give rise to needs which do not attach to the able-bodied and Ian Burnip and the late Lucy Trengove provide stark examples”.

Specialists at the firm say today’s judgement will have a huge impact on discrimination in the benefits system, and will ensure that the Government now ensures there is a appropriate provision when considering disabled people’s needs.

In the lead case, Ian Burnip, represented by Irwin Mitchell, was told by Birmingham City Council that he could not claim local housing allowance (LHA) to cover an extra bedroom he needed for an overnight care worker.

A second case involved Rebecca Trengove whose daughter Lucy, who has since sadly passed away, was unable to secure the LHA she needed for an extra room for an overnight care worker from Walsall Council.

During the course of the Appeal process, the local housing allowance rules on extra bedrooms were changed by the Government and, since April 2011, extra LHA is now given to disabled people who need a bedroom for an overnight care worker.

However, a third case heard by the Court of Appeal was not affected by the coalition’s new rules. Richard Gorry, the father of two disabled children, one who has a physical impairment and the other who has autism, wanted Wiltshire County Council to provide enough LHA for his children to have separate bedrooms. This ruling will now ensure that he is awarded a rate of housing benefit which reflects his daughters’ accepted needs to sleep in separate rooms and ensure that they can afford to live in adequate and suitable housing.

The Court of Appeal found that discrimination had occurred in all three cases and that their human rights had been breached even though the appropriate provisions being sought for the disabled people required additional public expenditure.

Ian Burnip’s mother Linda, who set up the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group to campaign for changes in the system, said: “Winning this case reinforces disabled people’s right to not be discriminated against within the benefits system and also affirms their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We hope that the case will help other disabled people who feel that they have been discriminated by government policies and law”.


  Contact Details:

PR Officer

Irwin Mitchell Press Office: 01142744666


Irwin Mitchell


Irwin Mitchell celebrates its centenary this year and is one of the largest law firms in the UK. The firm employs more than 2100 staff and has more than 150 Partners helping over 200,000 clients a year. There are offices in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield as well as a consulting office in Leicester and two offices in Spain. For more information visit www.irwinmitchell.com

The firm won an award for its innovative corporate strategy and was also named in the Industry Pioneers category at the annual ‘FT Innovative Lawyers’ awards in 2011. It was ranked in the Top 50 litigators in the world by The Lawyer magazine and in 2010 was named as one of the leading companies in the country for commitment to local communities in the prestigious Business in the Community’s (BITC) annual Corporate Responsibility Index.

Recognised in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 for a unique client-focused approach, Irwin Mitchell won the acclaimed Claimant Solicitor of the Year award (Rehabilitation Awards).

Other accolades include being listed among the top five Most Diverse Law firms in the UK by the Black Solicitors Network. The Legal Sector Alliance also found Irwin Mitchell to have the 2nd Lowest Carbon Footprint of any UK law firm.