Lack of social care has led to ‘acute violations of disabled people’s human rights’ – report

A human rights watchdog has criticised the Government’s “slow progress” in efforts to improve the lives of disabled people across the UK.

Some recommendations made seven years ago have still not been fulfilled, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said.

A report, published on Thursday, stated that there had been no progress in looking at the impact of welfare reforms or access to justice for disabled people, as recommended following a 2016 United Nations inquiry into the state of rights for disabled people in the UK.

Similarly, no progress has been made in establishing a mechanism within government in the UK to monitor human rights obligations or the impact of policies and programmes on the rights of disabled people, it added.

The latest report is from the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism (UKIM), which is made up of the EHRC, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI), the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC).

The report stated that there had been “slow progress towards implementing the (UN) committee’s 2016 inquiry recommendations”, adding that there were “gaps in meaningful engagement between governments and disabled people across many parts of the UK”.

It concluded there had been only limited progress in ensuring any intended measure of welfare reform is “rights-based, upholds the human rights model of disability and does not disproportionately” affect the rights of disabled people to independent living, an adequate standard of living or to employment.

It also said there had been only limited progress on a recommendation to considering disabled people at risk in the implementation of policies and programmes.

The report stated: “There continues to be a disproportionate number of disabled people living on a low income or in poverty, disabled people experience long waiting periods for benefits eligibility decisions and are more likely to use resources such as food banks.

“Across the UK, there is a lack of comprehensive, disaggregated equality data to facilitate the monitoring of the impact of policy and programmes on disabled persons to ensure that targeted actions can be taken.”

Little progress has been made in a recommendation to take appropriate measures to combat negative and discriminatory stereotypes or prejudice against disabled people in public and the media, the report added.

The report also said the design and level of support offered by the social security system does not reflect the needs of disabled people, with many living in poverty or on low incomes and being disproportionately affected by cost-of-living increases.

A lack of social care provision has also led to “acute violations of disabled people’s human rights”, it added.

Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the EHRC, said: “Alongside other human rights and equality bodies in Britain and Northern Ireland, we urge the governments in London and Cardiff to address the problems faced by disabled people and take action to address the UN’s recommendations from 2016.

“Disabled people must be treated with dignity, respect and fairness. The recommendations made years ago must be addressed if the lives of disabled people are to improve.”

National disability charity Sense said the report was “damning” and “shines a light on the huge challenges disabled people across the UK face, from poverty to prejudicial attitudes”.

Head of policy Sarah White said: “With this new report from the EHRC, our own research and the work of our colleagues at other disability charities, the evidence is stacking up. The Government cannot ignore the facts – we need action now to improve the lives of disabled people.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Last month we launched a consultation on our new Disability Action Plan, which is part of this Government’s commitment to create a society that works for everyone.

“Significant work is already being taken forward including reforming the health and disability benefits system, boosting disability benefits by 10.1%, investing £2 billion to support sick and disabled people back into work, and helping the most vulnerable with record financial support worth around £3,300 per household.

“We remain committed to making our society a more inclusive and accessible place for all disabled people.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2023, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Pixabay.