Labour has pledged to make independent living a reality through a string of measures, including billions of pounds of extra funding for care and support packages, although it has stopped short of offering a free, England-wide, independent living service.
The party has also promised to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into UK law, including article 19, which guarantees disabled people the legal right to live independently in the community.
The commitment to article 19 means that a Labour government would usher in a new era of equality, inclusion and citizenship and ensure that “nothing about us without us” was at the heart of government, the party told Disability News Service (DNS) yesterday (Wednesday).
It says this would be done through measures such as reforms to social security, improving the accessibility of public transport and measures to ensure disabled people can secure reasonable adjustments at work, the party said.
The Labour manifesto does not promise to introduce a National Independent Living Support Service (NILSS) for England if it wins the election, despite the policy – designed by the disabled people’s movement – receiving overwhelming support from party members at its annual conference (pictured).
Instead, Labour is promising to provide free personal care for people over 65, with only an “ambition to extend this provision to all working-age adults”.
But it does promise that its investment in social care would enable a Labour government to more than double the number of older and working-age people receiving publicly-funded care packages, improve the standard of this care and “remove the distinction between health and care needs”.
Its costings document (PDF) estimates its social care plans would cost about £10.8 billion a year extra by 2023-24, although it is not clear whether this includes free personal care for working-age disabled people, or just older people.
The party is also promising to support autistic people and people with learning difficulties to move out from “inappropriate inpatient hospital settings” and receive support in their own homes.
The party said that these measures, as well as pledges to improve the accessibility of public transport, represented significant steps towards better state support for independent living.
And the party also told DNS that if it won power it would publish a green paper that would consider the merits of an overarching independent living service that would combine all of these and other measures, including possible changes to independent living benefit payments following a review.
The party told DNS that its reforms would respect the human rights of disabled people, and that its National Care Service for England would provide community-based, person-centred support that was underpinned by the principles of ethical care and independent living.
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