Political parties are set to be told to promise an end to austerity, a legal right to independent living and an immediate end to universal credit, if they want disabled people’s support at the next general election.
The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is carrying out a consultation with members across England on a draft Disabled People’s Manifesto, so a final version can be ready in time for an election that most commentators believe will be called within months.
The ROFA manifesto can then be compared with the disability policies included by parties in their general election manifestos.
ROFA is an alliance of disabled people and their organisations, including Sisters of Frida, Inclusion London, The Alliance for Inclusive Education, Disabled People Against Cuts, the Trade Union Disability Alliance, People First (Self Advocacy), Change, and Equal Lives.
The draft manifesto says: “Disabled people’s inclusion must be a right and a reality from the beginning of our lives, not a continuous struggle in the face of daily exclusion, injustice, prejudice and discrimination.”
Disabled people, it adds, “must have the right to enjoy the same degree of autonomy, and control over their day-to-day lives, and their long-term futures as non-disabled people”.
The manifesto includes about 20 “priority demands”, including a call for the next government to implement in full the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The manifesto highlights the need for the next government to bring an end to austerity, and to reverse the cuts to disabled people’s support that have been introduced by successive Tory-led governments since 2010.
It points to reports which have shown the impact of austerity on disabled people, including research which showed a likely 120,000 “excess deaths” as a result of austerity cuts to adult social care and health spending between 2010 and 2017.
Among the draft manifesto’s other priority demands are for a legal right to independent living, under UNCRPD’s article 19, and the introduction of a National Independent Living Support Service (NILSS).
And it calls for an urgent programme to end the use of institutional care for autistic people and people with learning difficulties.
A series of demands for social security reform includes scrapping all benefit sanctions, universal credit, the bedroom tax, and the work capability assessment, and producing a new assessment system for disability benefits in co-production with disabled people and in line with UNCRPD, as well as restoring benefits to the same real levels as 2010.
There are also calls for a fully inclusive education system that would see an end to all segregated special schools and colleges, and for a major programme of building accessible homes.
Other priority demands cover investment in accessible infrastructure; access to justice; enforcement of the Equality Act; barriers to employment; the response to Brexit; the needs of disabled people in a climate emergency plan; and the need for “real and effective co-production” with disabled people’s organisations at local, regional and national levels.
ROFA has also issued a separate document that sets out priorities for the first 100 days of a new government.
This document includes calls for an assessment of the cumulative impact of austerity cuts on disabled people, and a commitment to address that impact; for the announcement of a legal right to independent living; for the new government to make spending commitments to address the funding crises in social care and special educational needs and disabilities; and for a pledge to provide strategic funding for disabled people’s organisations in every local authority area.
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