Survey ‘will help build vital picture of rights’


theweek120by150A new survey will help build an accurate picture of how the UK is implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and provide campaigners with ammunition when discussing policy with the government.

The UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) wants to use its survey to find out what life is like for disabled people across the UK, and how far the country has gone towards making the rights contained in the convention a reality.

UKDPC will use the results to add weight to the report it is preparing on the UK’s implementation of UNCRPD, and as part of a continuing programme of monitoring the convention.

The hope is that UKDPC will eventually be able to take a booth to events around the country, so disabled people can report their own experiences of rights abuses by filling in the survey.

The UK government’s report on how it believes it is implementing the convention was submitted to a UN committee in 2011, although it made almost no reference to the coalition’s programme of cuts to disability benefits and services.

But the UN committee will also be accepting a 60-page “shadow” report on the government’s progress, which is being led by UKDPC under its Disability Rights Watch UK banner.

The UN monitoring committee had been due to scrutinise the UK government’s record this year, but there are believed to be about 20 countries to be assessed before the UK, with the committee only dealing with about five of them every year.

Among the questions the survey asks are how well the government has engaged with disabled people, and what kind of barriers they face – such as accessibility, discrimination, a lack of personal mobility, privacy and support services, and a poor standard of living and benefits. It also asks for specific examples of UK human rights abuses.

Julie Newman, UKDPC’s acting chair, said she expected survey responses to reflect the impact on disabled people of the government’s programme of cuts, including its welfare reforms and the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

She said: “We have to be able to join that all up and make the links with the convention, which was a national commitment.”

She said the survey would help in the preparation of an “accurate and coherent” shadow report, but would also play an “absolutely critical” role in providing “academically robust” evidence to show the government during policy discussions and demonstrate which parts of the convention it is failing on.

Newman said that Disability Rights Watch UK’s work so far had built up a complex picture of how the convention was being implemented, and how disabled people’s rights were being respected.

She said: “It is like a rope, it is made of many, many different strands that are woven together.

“What is coming out is that where there are difficulties, say for independent living, there is usually a failure of statutory providers.”

11 April 2013