EHRC ‘reaffirms’ commitment to disability rights agenda


The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has “reaffirmed” its commitment to disability rights in the wake of the resignations of its two disabled commissioners.

A work plan for 2009/2010, published by the commission’s disability committee, shows how it is contributing to the EHRC’s new strategic plan.

Priorities laid out in the work plan include ensuring that the equality bill improves protection from discrimination and promotes disability equality.

Another is ensuring effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the government in June.

EHRC chair Trevor Phillips said publication was part of a “reaffirmation” of its commitment to disability rights following the resignations of Sir Bert Massie and Baroness [Jane] Campbell in July.

Other priorities include narrowing the jobs and skills gap between disabled and non-disabled people; promoting greater choice and control by influencing health, social care and health reforms; tackling disability hate crime; and promoting the use of the disability equality duty by public authorities.

The committee will also commission an appraisal of disabled children’s rights in Britain.

And it will commission a paper and host a seminar on assisted suicide and the “right to die” so it can “reach a considered view on these contentious issues” to share with the rest of the EHRC. 

The committee also wants to reach out to “seldom heard” disabled people, such as Muslims, people with autism and other neuro-diverse conditions, and those in prison.

It will also “renew impetus” on developing inclusively-built and designed goods, facilities and services.

And it will work to secure a “progressive” EU directive to extend EU-wide protection from disability discrimination to the provision of goods and services.

The European parliament approved the directive in April but it must be agreed by all 27 EU member countries.

The committee will also investigate disabled people’s forced marriages, and work to “broaden and strengthen” Scotland’s independent living movement.

But the committee warns that threatened “swingeing” cuts in public services could have a “disproportionate” effect on disabled people’s employment, and that the EHRC will be “under ever greater pressure to demonstrate how our proposals will deliver value for money”.

Alun Davies, who will step down as committee chair later this year, said: “Significant progress has been made with disability rights in the past 15 years, but deep inequality persists for considerable numbers of disabled people.

“We’ve set out our plans for the coming year that will tackle these issues head on.”

1 October 2009