Government rewrites history for UN report


The government appears to have left out any mention of the brutal cuts to disabled people’s benefits and services in a crucial report about how it is implementing the United Nations (UN) disability convention.

The report was submitted today (Thursday) to the UN by the UK government’s Office for Disability Issues, and describes measures that are being taken to implement each of the articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

But an initial analysis of the report suggests the government has omitted any mention of its planned 20 per cent cut to spending on disability living allowance (DLA), and of other cuts, such as plans to impose a one-year time limit on most claimants of the contributory form of employment and support allowance (ESA).

In the section on article 28 of the convention, which describes disabled people’s right to an adequate standard of living, the government’s report admits that twice as many disabled adults in Britain live in “persistent poverty” as non-disabled adults.

But it makes no mention of how the DLA cuts, the impact of ever-tightening eligibility criteria for care services being introduced by councils, the cuts to ESA, or the closure of the Independent Living Fund to new members are set to attack people’s standard of living.

Even in an annex summarising responses from disabled people and disabled people’s organisations to May’s draft version of the report, it appears to skate over the public spending cuts.

The annex says: “Disabled people believe that in the approach taken to reform, and the government’s ambition to reduce public sector spending, government should avoid steps that might result in disproportionate impact on them when compared to non-disabled people.”

It is also careful not to mention the word “cuts” in the annex section on independent living, instead reporting that disabled people had “suggested” that “changes” to local authority spending would lead to councils “focusing provision on the services which they have a legal obligation to deliver”.

Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, said the report was “an important milestone” and “sets out the progress we have made across the United Kingdom and the approach to delivering the government’s commitment to equality for disabled people”.

She added: “Going forward, we will maintain this momentum through a new disability strategy. We will use the convention as a starting point to focus all our energy on ensuring that disabled people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

The UK Disabled People’s Council is leading a project – Disability Rights Watch UK – to compile a separate, independent report to the UN based on evidence from disabled people and their organisations, while the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission will also submit reports to the UN.

24 November 2011


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