Labour has accused successive Tory-led governments of forcing a million more people in families with disabled members into poverty over the last decade.
In a new report, Labour highlights 10 areas in which successive Tory-led governments have failed on poverty as a result of their austerity policies.
As well as areas such as child poverty, in-work poverty, homelessness and the rise in the use of food banks, it also focuses on disability poverty.
The report, Poverty Britain, points to government figures that show the number of individuals in families that include a disabled person and were in relative poverty (after housing costs) increased from 4.3 million in 2010-11 to 5.5 million in 2017-18, an increase of 1.2 million.
The same figures – published by the Department for Work and Pensions in March (see summary results, table 7b) – also show that the number of individuals in families that include a disabled person and were in absolute poverty (after housing costs) rose by 700,000, from 4.3 million to five million people, over the same period.
Poverty Britain also points to Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) research that found disabled people had been disproportionately affected by austerity measures introduced by successive Tory-led governments between 2010 and 2017.
The research (PDF), published in November 2017, found that, on average, the impact of tax and benefit changes on families that included a disabled adult would reduce their income by about £2,500 per year; if the family also included a disabled child, the impact would be more than £5,500 per year.
Labour’s report also highlights a report by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which found in November 2016 that the UK government was guilty of “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s rights.
The committee concluded in the report that the UK government had discriminated against disabled people across three key parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Most of the breaches – which were all under articles 19 (independent living), article 27 (work and employment) and article 28 (adequate standard of living and social protection) of the convention – were caused by policies introduced by Conservative ministers at DWP between 2010 and 2015.
It was the first such high-level inquiry to be carried out by the UN committee, and was a result of years of research and lobbying by disabled activists from Disabled People Against Cuts.
In the poverty report, the party pledges that a Labour government would scrap the Tories’ “unfair and counterproductive sanctions regime”, although it has not yet pledged to scrap sanctions altogether, as demanded by disabled activists.
It also pledges to scrap the work capability assessment and replace it with “fairer, more personal support”, abolish the “cruel” bedroom tax, and increase support through the out-of-work disability benefit employment and support allowance, although it has not yet said how it will do this.
The Conservative party had failed to respond to Labour’s evidence on disability poverty by noon today (Thursday).
The report also reveals that Trussell Trust food banks have given away 65 million meals in the last five years, the equivalent of a meal for every person in the UK.
The party has pledged to end the use of food banks completely within its first three years in power.
Further details about Labour’s policies were due to be announced today in its manifesto (Thursday).
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