In Geneva today (2nd April), Dr Pauline Nolan, Policy Officer for Inclusion Scotland, will submit evidence to a preliminary hearing ahead of a planned review of the human rights record of 14 states, including the UK.
On behalf of the Campaign for A Fair Society – a coalition of more than 70 Scottish charities – Dr Nolan will warn the cumulative impact of welfare reform and cuts to benefits affecting disabled people will mean their ability to live a full life is impaired. In particular, she will argue that welfare changes undermine their right to be included in the community.
The campaign also claims disabled people are being denied access to justice when they try to appeal against these cuts to their benefits.
Dr Nolan said she aimed to equip the UN with a series of recommendations and questions to put to the UK Government when its representatives appear in front of the Human Rights Council in May.
She added: “Disability organisations, disabled people and the Parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that these cuts will have a devastating cumulative impact on the livelihoods of disabled people.
“Further cuts are taking place to local authority services they receive. Taken together, all these cuts are severely undermining the human rights of disabled people.”
She claims half of the £18 billion of cuts to be made under welfare reform will fall on households containing disabled people, adding: “These cuts will push hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their families into poverty and thousands will be made homeless.”
Jim Elder-Woodward, of the Independent Living in Scotland project, said: “I am really pleased that Dr Nolan is going to Geneva to tell the UN just how this Coalition Government is systematically undermining the rights of disabled people by cutting their benefits and services.
“The combined voices of disabled people have either been silenced or misrepresented by the UK Government in their resolution to make disabled people suffer over 50% of the total £18bn in benefit cuts.”
Norma Curran, of Values Into Action Scotland, added: “These welfare reforms are devastating people’s lives. It’s not acceptable to challenge the human rights of people on the grounds of race, sex, language, or religion, so why does the UK Government think that it is acceptable to breach the human rights of disabled people?”