Disabled people in the UK know that this ConDem government is guilty of abusing the rights of disabled people. Back in June it took a Hungarian Professor, Gabor Gombos*, to confirm what disabled campaigners in the UK have been raising for four years and more, that our government is guilty of "grave or systemic violations" of our rights.
During a disability law summer school in Galway in June the Professor made the following statement in relation to the UK:
"Where the issue has been raised and the government did not really make effective actions to fix the situation... it is a very high threshold thing; the violations should really be grave and very systemic."
Such statements are not made lightly; and scores of thousands of disabled people in the UK would be able to testify to and concur with the statement.
Indeed in July Just Fair’s ‘Dignity and Opportunity for All: Securing the Rights of Disabled People in the Austerity Era’ report found that this government in breach of its international human rights obligations (to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of disabled people) under both UNCRPD and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
For more than four years disabled activists, grass roots groups such as DPAC, trade unions and some politicians have highlighted this government’s failings of disabled people.
Tenacious campaigning against the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) managed to drive away ATOS, the notorious deliverer of the WCA. DPAC, Black Triangle and the trade unions, amongst others, forced ATOS to abandon the contract.
The Spartacus Report ‘Responsible Reform: Changes to Disability Living Allowance’, compiled by disabled people, exposed the ConDem’s consultation findings on planned changes to DLA as disingenuous. In their own words the government plans for the DLA replacement, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to cut at least 20% from the benefit.
The Bedroom Tax, despite reassurances to disabled people, did exactly what we predicted. It hit thousands of disabled people who needed a ‘spare’ room for partners or carers use; or to house bulky disability equipment such as wheelchairs, hoists, etc.
Another violation of our rights is the abolishing of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) planned for next year. In November 2013 a High Court decision found the closure of ILF unlawful. Earlier this year, after manipulating ‘new’ equality analysis and evidence, the government announced the closure of ILF in June 2015. There is, however, another challenge to keep ILF currently being made by individual disabled service users.
The above is not an exhaustive catalogue of abuses carried out by this government against disabled people. But it goes some way to highlighting the fact that this government is guilty of breaches in its international human rights obligations (to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of disabled people) under both UNCRPD and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
*Professor Gabor Gombos, co-founder of Voice of Soul, Hungary’s first organisation for ex-users and survivors of mental health institutions, and co-chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry