TUC says no to government’s new disability alliance


theweek120by150Disabled trade unionists have refused to join the government’s new “alliance” of organisations interested in disability, because they say it will restrict their ability to campaign against coalition policies.

The Office for Disability Issues claims that about 90 disability, public, voluntary and private sector organisations have joined its Disability Action Alliance (DAA), which aims to identify actions and activities that can “make a difference to the lives of disabled people” at local and national level.

Disability Rights UK, which is convening DAA, says the alliance will advise on “implementation” of government policy and focus on how existing policies could be improved at a local level.

Disabled people’s organisations signed up so far include Equalities National Council, People First (Self Advocacy) and the National Survivor User Network. The government has yet to publish a full list.

But the TUC’s Disabled Workers’ Committee (DWC) said this week that it had decided not to accept a government invitation to join DAA.

DWC said that joining the alliance would restrict the TUC’s ability to campaign against government policies that were affecting disabled people.

Sean McGovern, DWC’s chair, said unions had been working with disabled people to challenge the government’s “brutal and inhumane cuts”, including the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the replacement of working-age disability living allowance with personal independence payment, and the “bedroom tax”.

He said: “Every single one of these changes is punishing and impoverishing disabled people and their families.

“Joining this government-inspired alliance now would be to pretend that none of this is happening.”

He added: “We want to see all disabled people and the organisations that represent them continuing to oppose government policy and not conned into becoming part of the problem rather than part of the solution.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “It’s disappointing that the TUC have chosen not to join around 90 other organisations that make up the alliance so far, and who want to work together to make a real difference to the lives of disabled people.

“The membership agreement that we ask organisations to read before they sign up states very clearly that, although organisations should not campaign or lobby ‘in the name of the alliance’, this would not affect them campaigning or lobbying in their own right.”

27 March 2013