The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has suffered the latest in a long line of legal defeats over its social security cuts and reforms, after a court ruled that disabled people faced discrimination when they were moved onto universal credit (UC).
The court of appeal yesterday (Wednesday) dismissed the government’s appeals against two court judgments which had found that the work and pensions secretary unlawfully discriminated against thousands of disabled people with high support needs who moved onto UC
Two men, known as TP and AR for legal reasons, have been fighting for two years against policies that left them substantially worse off when they were forced onto UC after moving local authority area.
Although DWP could still appeal, AR said: “We hope that the court of appeal ruling will finally bring an end to our fight for severely disabled people not to be disadvantaged by universal credit.
“It is still so shocking to us that we have had to fight so long and so hard just to get the government to see that their policy is unfair.”
Disabled campaigners are celebrating after the BBC’s director-general suspended plans to shut the broadcaster’s Red Button text service.
Tony Hall said pressure from The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFB UK) and the British Deaf Association, among others, had persuaded him to rethink the issue and “make a fresh decision in the spring”.
An NFB UK petition calling for the switch-off to be halted, and signed by more than 100 organisations, was handed to 10 Downing Street on Monday (27 January).
Disabled people’s organisations are calling on the BBC to keep the TV text service, which was set to be withdrawn at the end of this month.
They say that, although it has largely been replaced by internet use, it is still a “vital service” for visually impaired, D/deaf, disabled and older people and other hard-to-reach social groups, many of whom do not have internet access.
Many disabled people in the legal profession face hostility and discrimination at work, and often have to hide their impairments when they apply for jobs or training places, according to new research.
Some requests for workplace adjustments resulted in ill-treatment or discrimination, the research found, with the study adding: “A poverty of imagination, bureaucracy, belligerent managers and outdated working practices prevent often minor adjustments that would make a huge difference for disabled people.”
Researchers at Cardiff Business School, working with the Lawyers with Disabilities division of the Law Society, spoke to disabled solicitors, barristers, trainees and paralegals.
The Legally Disabled? study, funded by the disabled-led DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, concluded: “Disabled people in the legal profession face – on a daily basis – rituals, practices and attitudes that exclude or undermine them in their roles as trainees, advocates and employees.”
Disabled campaigners have continued their fight against Greenwich council’s plans to increase charges and make cuts to social care provision.
Among their concerns, they said that a question asking if the council should deal with funding cuts by reducing “front line services like social care, street cleaning and libraries” was discriminatory and biased and “does not explain the differences of impact for each service, particularly social care”.
The council was due to make a delayed decision on the cuts last night.
The government this week added the summer and winter Paralympic Games to the list of sporting “crown jewels” that must be made available to free-to-air broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for live television coverage.
Ross Wilson, Para Table Tennis world champion, said: “Ensuring that the Paralympics is available for everyone to watch live on TV is important, not only to me as an athlete, but also to increase participation in Para sport and inspire young athletes with a disability in the future.”
Channel 4 has already secured a contract to broadcast coverage of this summer’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo, but the announcement should ensure that future games are also broadcast on free-to-air television.
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