This government has been a disaster for disabled people – by Kate Green

Classic

By Kate Green, shadow minister for disabled people, first

This weekend, members of my party will be meeting to shape the policy programme that Labour will take into government.

At the heart of those discussions will be a determination to deliver the vision of One Nation Britain that Ed Miliband has committed us to. Nowhere will that commitment matter more than in relation to our policies for the equality, inclusion and participation of disabled people.

Today, we can see that, under the coalition government, that ambition is way off track.

Last week, an analysis by Just Fair, a consortium which campaigns for a fairer and more just society, demonstrated just how damaging the government’s policies have been for disabled people. Just Fair argue that the UK risks  breaching our international obligations to the rights and equality of disabled people as a result of the government’s policies.

Labour is determined that our approach will be to ensure that all our policies advance the equality, dignity and participation of disabled people. Last week, in Scotland, Rachel Reeves announced a set of early commitments for a Labour government that demonstrate our seriousness about that.

Our first priority will be to secure disabled people’s right to fair and decent employment, in two important ways:

We will reform the discredited work capability assessment to ensure it’s fit for purpose. Under our plans, everyone who’s assessed will receive a personal statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their ability to work, as a gateway to defining and assembling the package of support they’d need if they are able to do so.

We’ll also introduce penalties on assessors for wrong assessments, and we will continue with the independent review process, with a formal role for disabled people to advise and inform the way the assessment works.

The work programme has been a disaster for disabled people, getting only around one in 20 into sustained work. It’s clear that a top down, centrally driven programme can’t deliver the right support for disabled people.

So we will push commissioning of employment programmes down to local level, enabling commissioners who know and understand the local labour market and the support and advice that’s available in the community to design and procure the services that will work for disabled people and ensure they share in our economic success.

One of the most pernicious examples of the government’s failure to secure the rights of disabled people is that they are twice as likely to live in poverty as non disabled people, and this year we have seen an extra 400,000 disabled families facing absolute poverty.

Earlier this year, the independent taskforce on poverty and disability, chaired by Sir Bert Massie, recommended a number of measures to break this disgraceful link. Key among them was scrapping the hated bedroom tax, which has pushed more disabled people and their carers into poverty, and undermined their right to live independently.

It will be Labour’s priority in government to abolish this unworkable and vicious tax.

We will also sort out the chaos that characterises the personal independence payment, working with disabled people to ensure PIP protects them from the risk of poverty, as well as exploring the ideas in the Massie report to address the higher living costs that disabled people face.

These early measures are important in and of themselves to improve the position of disabled people and address the disadvantage they experience.

But they are also emblematic of our overarching commitment to making rights a reality for disabled people, as our international obligations require. Engaging disabled people directly in the design and review of the policies that affect them, and devolving decision-making to local level, will ensure disabled people take a central role in the management of their own lives.

They sit on all fours with the principles of reducing poverty, securing the right to work for those who are able to do so, and protecting the right of disabled people to live independently where and with whom they choose.

They go to the heart of our determination to achieve greater equality, to respect the human rights of disabled people, and to create a One Nation Britain in which every disabled person can realise their potential and live their life to the full.

Further reading:

Labour calls on Government To Save Independent Living Fund

Labour will work with disabled people to improve services – Jon Cruddas

The Labour Party commissioned Poverty and Disability Taskforce Report in a nutshell

Rising ESA sanctions: punishing the vulnerable for being vulnerable

Clause 99, Catch 22 – State sadism and silencing the vulnerable

 

 

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10 thoughts on “This government has been a disaster for disabled people – by Kate Green

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Have to admit she lost me after she said Labour will reform the Work Capability Assessment “to make it fit for purpose”. This is, of course, impossible as it is a system designed by a criminal US insurance corporation, to justify refusing the benefit to disabled people. Where does she talk about throwing Unum out of the DWP?
    That would be progress.

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      1. Yes we do. A person calling themselves ‘Horrified’ has commented on my reblog with a list of other things for which they blame Labour, and I have no answer to them.

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    1. Bearing in mind the work that the likes of Sheila Gilmore, Anne Begg, Glenda Jackson and Debbie Abrahams – as well as the work and Pensions Committee – have put in challlenging the Government on the inadequacies and dire consequences of the WCA and of sanctions, too

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  2. Good I hope that Labour will do what they can to stop the Tories destroying our independence we need our DLA to survive. All what Cameron and his vile party believe in is cuts, cuts all the time it just isn’t fair. Hope Labour can fix this

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  3. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    While this sounds good, it’s just simply about reforming a system that is fundamentally wrong. Instead of the improvements being proposed here, the whole work assessment programme should be scrapped. However, that might be difficult for the Labour party, which introduced Atos and the assessments under Blair, and who still seem to believe, from this evidence, that including it makes good economic sense and appeals to the middle classes Blair was so desperate to court.

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    1. I’ve had a dialogue with Anne Begg, and submitted evidence for the ongoing work and pensions committee inquiry into ESA/WCA. WE have always had an assessment of sorts, under the old system of incapacity benefit, it was carried out by DWP. I’ve seen the work Anne, Sheila Gilmore, Debbie Abrahams and Glenda Jackson, John McDonnell and Dennis Skinner amongst others, have put in fighting this government on the gross injustices that are being inflicted on us. I can assure you that 1) Atos won’t be re-contracted under labour 2) any assessment won’t be like the one IDS has fashioned 3) the targets for removing benefit, which were added by the tories, when they renewed Atos’s contract, will not be used under Labour, like they weren’t previously. Labour piloted ESA, IDS made it law, despite labour raising concerns about the WCA following their review. The deaths linkedwith the WCA have happened since 2010.
      Also, see here: https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/welfare-wrongs-and-human-rights-a-dialogue-with-anne-mcguire

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