The UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRDP) has issued a stark warning that recent UK welfare reforms are disproportionately affecting disabled people, causing “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights.
Citing changes to housing benefits and criteria for parts of the Personal Independence Payment, in addition to a narrowing of social care criteria and the cancellation of the Independent Living Fund, the UN’s inquiry is shedding light on some of the important welfare issues that are impacting heavily on disabled people and barring them from playing full roles in their communities.
Sense recently released the Realising Aspirations for All report, which revealed that ineffective employment support programmes are a major barrier to deafblind people seeking employment. The report also highlighted that young deafblind people are some of the most marginalised jobseekers in the country, with only one in ten currently in employment.
Sense is now strongly campaigning around the UK Government’s welcome new work, health and disability green paper, Improving Lives. We believe this vital green paper is an ideal chance for the UK Government to begin to address the CRDP’s concerns, and to send out the message that they support and value the contribution of disabled people to society.
However, there are still a number of questions that need answering if the green paper is going to achieve these commendable aims. We remain concerned over the damaging cut to Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and believe the Government can better support disabled people by extending the positive move to abolish ESA reassessment to other disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payments (PIP). It will be important that some of the negative experiences of PIP, echoed in the UN report, are not replicated in proposed changes to benefits going forward.
The Government’s consultative approach to supporting disabled people has been welcome, and we look forward to working with them going forwards to ensure that the lives of disabled people across the country are improved.