Activists question care commission’s missing commitment to human rights


A disabled peer has criticised the commission set up to examine the long-term funding of care and support for failing to mention equality and human rights in its guiding “principles”.

Baroness [Jane] Campbell raised her concerns at a parliamentary meeting addressed by Andrew Dilnot, the man chosen by the government to chair the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support.

Two other prominent disabled campaigners raised similar concerns at the joint meeting of social care-themed all party parliamentary groups, as did an influential MP.

Dilnot had announced the two “overarching principles” that will be reflected in the commission’s recommendations next year – including the need to promote people’s well-being.

But Baroness Campbell told Dilnot that she had not heard the terms “equality” or “human rights” mentioned within the overarching principles.

She also stressed the importance of care and support in giving disabled people “autonomy and personal control over their lives”, and the crucial need for “portability”, which would allow people to take their support packages with them if they moved to a different local authority area.

Dilnot said there was a potential conflict between portability and the need for local decision-making.

But Dr Hywel Francis, chair of the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, backed Baroness Campbell’s comments and said there “cannot be any conflict” between localism and human rights and equality.

Marije Davidson, RADAR’s senior policy and parliamentary officer, called on the commission to ensure that it worked with disabled people and other groups to “ensure the questions you will ask [during its public consultations]are not only right for you but also are right for us”.

Adrian Whyatt, chair of Neurodiversity International and co-chair of the Autistic Rights Movement UK, also pointed to the need to involve disabled people’s organisations in the commission’s deliberations.

After the meeting, Baroness Campbell said: “To say that portability is incompatible with localism demonstrates a non-understanding of what care and support is there to do, which is to maximize people’s contribution, and you cannot do that if you are still in one place all your life.”

She said it felt as though the commission had failed to “truly involve” disabled people from the start of its work.

And Whyatt said there was “clearly not” enough input from DPOs, and that the commission’s members were people for whom human rights and equality “just doesn’t come naturally”.

Dame Jo Williams, one of the three commission members, told Disability News Service: “We have listened very carefully to what people have said to us and we will take it away and give it due consideration. No doubt about that.”

Dilnot had earlier told the meeting that, despite the cuts announced in the government’s spending review, all possible options for funding were “absolutely still on the table” and would be considered by the commission.

26 October 2010