The work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, has dismissed the highly critical UN report that concluded that the UK government’s austerity policies “systematically violated” the rights of disabled people.
Green said the report was “patronising and offensive” and presented an outdated view of disability in the UK. He said Britain was “a world leader in disability rights and equality”.
But disability activists and charities welcomed the report, saying it accurately highlighted the real economic and social pressures faced by disabled people after years of harsh spending cuts to social security and social care.
The shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, said the UN report was “crystal clear” in its identification of UK government failures. “It confirms that, despite Theresa May’s warm words, this government is failing sick and disabled people,” she said.
The UN committee said a range of measures introduced since 2010, including the bedroom tax and cuts to disability benefits and social care budgets, had disproportionately and adversely affected disabled people.
Spending cuts had negatively affected the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work and to achieve an adequate standard of living, the report said. It urged UK ministers to ensure the rights of disabled people were upheld.
Government ministers contributed to the inquiry that led to the report and are understood to have been presented with the findings earlier this year.
Green said: “At the heart of this report lies an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive. We strongly refute its findings. The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people. Our focus is on helping disabled people find and stay in work, whilst taking care of those who can’t.”
The government said it spent about £50bn a year to support sick and disabled people – a bigger proportion of GDP than countries including Canada, France and the US.
It said the recent publication of its work and health green paper, which included ambitious proposals to increase employment levels among disabled people, was “a turning point in our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings within the minds of employers and across wider society.”
But Abrahams said the report echoed warnings Labour had been making since 2011 about the effects of the government’s policies on disabled people.
“The UN committee is clear that its report examines the cumulative impact of legislation, policies and measures adopted from 2010 to October 2016, so the government’s claim that it is outdated does not stand up to scrutiny.
“I am also concerned that the government is labelling the report as patronising, when they are the ones dismissing the concerns raised by disabled people who helped instigate the inquiry in the first place.”
Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at the mental health charity Mind, said the UN findings were extremely concerning but came as no surprise.
“The government has ambitions to help many more people with mental health problems back into work but, as this inquiry points out, the current approach is cruel, inappropriate and doesn’t work.”
Neil Crowther, an independent disability rights expert, said: ‘It’s deeply sad to see the UK – once a proud global leader on disabled people’s rights – being found guilty of systematically violating them.
“Britain’s own joint parliamentary committee on human rights warned of the risks to disabled people’s human rights that would result from the combined effect of reform and spending decisions in 2012. After extensive research and consultation, the UN committee has found that these risks have come to pass.
“With further cuts to social security still to come and no plans for additional investment in social care, it seems likely that things are only going to get worse. The government’s complacent response offers little reassurance to the contrary.”
Dan Scorer, head of policy at Mencap, said: “This report is further acknowledgement that cutting disabled people’s benefits will only make life harder and isolate people further from inclusion in employment and wider society. People with a learning disability face massive exclusion from the labour market, and have seen their benefits and funding for vital social care services reduced.”
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said: “This is yet more evidence that there’s a clear need for changes to disability benefits. The system is currently failing too many people with MS.”
The inquiry report was based on an 11-day tour of the UK undertaken by two UN envoys in October 2015. The inquiry team met more than 200 individuals, including officials and MPs as well as activists and academics.
The UK has been a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities since 2007. The convention includes articles on the right to live independently, to work and to enjoy social protection without discrimination on the basis of disability.
Damian Green: “Their [UN and stakeholder’s] evidence period runs up until the end of 2015, so it is already out of date. We intend to point out that the UK spends around £50 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions, which is over £6 billion more than in 2010.”
Sue Jones: “Exactly how much of that spending has gone to those people needing essential support, and how much has been spent on contracting private companies, ironically to save money and cut support for disabled people, in order to “target” the ever-shrinking category of “those most in need”?
And given that the government’s track record up until the end of last year indicates that ministers have been atrociously negligent in observing the human rights of disabled people, how do the more recent cuts to ESA, and proposals set out in the work, health and disability green paper remedy that, precisely?”
UN’s highly critical report confirms UK government has systematically breached the human rights of disabled people
Initial thoughts on the work, health and disability green paper
The inquiry reports:
1. Report of the Inquiry Concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention
2. Observations of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the report of the Inquiry carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention
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37 thoughts on “Damian Green dismisses ‘offensive’ UN report on UK disability rights : The Guardian.”
Weak responses from MIND and the MS Society. Talking about the Government’s supposed ambitions to help, when it seems clear these will be just another cover for further cost-cutting, is deeply misguided imo.
oh dear t wasnt us gov it was them while keeping up their aktion t4 plans culling the stock by benefit denial green his name is but a rather good devil to replace the other imp rtu ids
Hi Sue, Finally, validation of all we’ve said for years. Hope you’re well. Joyce. X
Sent from Samsung tablet
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No surprises in the report, but still had a powerful emotional impact on me. Yes, 4 years of work vindicated.
Hope you are well, love and hugs, Sue x
Reblogged this on disabledsingleparent.
Like a Holocaust denier, shameless Damian Green is ignoring the overwhelming evidence against the DWP, including the testimony of coroners.
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Not sure which planet green lives on but it isn’t this one, and how much of the budget he claims is spent on the disabled is actually going to private companies to pay for the reduction in claimants ?
That’s what I said
Reblogged this on Nathan Lee Davies.
Reblogged this on Same Difference.
The Government have made it clear that they refute the report, and as far as they are concerned it’s business as usual. If anything, their response will be to make things even worse than they already are.
The green paper proposals and the talk around tables for the past 6 years indicates that what is happening has been planned for a long time by the conservatives. So their response won’t be any worse than they had already intended. Now, however, they have been made formally aware that their policies are having detrimental effect on sick and disabled people. The government were also presented with our gathered and substantial evidence of that. This means any continuation of their policies that harm disabled people is now more clearly done with intent. Denial of a “causal link” in the face of evidence that indicates a clear correlation, whilst continuing to refuse to investigate that link also indicates intent.
Denial appears to be the Tory’s stock answer to the appalling and tragic results of their vindictive inhumanity to fellow human beings.
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This is the norm for Tory ! But where dose this leave us ? Are human rights going to inforce and take to court the government over this ? Can human rights force out government to put things right ? Or will it be the norm as it was with bedroom tax ? A lot of noise that rights violated but let Tory government get away with it because they chose to ignore it ?
How can we get our rights back and those in question held responsible be taken to task over it ? What happens now ?
There’s a never ending line of sadistic, psychopathic bastards willing to sign up to the Tory Party administration. ‘Catch 22’ – anyone who wants to be a Tory MP should be prevented from doing so. Never has the ‘Nasty Party’ label been more appropriate.
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Reblogged this on Worldtruth.
Reblogged this on campertess and commented:
Why would the government agree with the report? Green doesn’t need to read it because he knows what it says. This will not stop them imposing the benefit cap or the bedroom tax on pensioners.
“Self-care could cut need for millions of GP visits”
After reading the above article on the BBC’s web-site, I feel more than justified in requesting payment of my invoice – by return.
On the behalf of the Department for Works and Pensions, I would like to apologize to those people listed – on my invoice – for wasting their time.
I have always been completely “open” and honest about my financial and health status, giving this information, way back in March 2015.
At this time, I had already waited 10 months for the Repairs and Renewal Grant, by the local council; just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and told by my GP: “I’ll never work again”; “Nothing we can do for you”; “That’s how it works – you have a stroke, we fill you up with pills and then you die”.
I did not want to waste his time, so I came off my medication and did not contact him again, until late May / early June of this year.
My application for Employment and Support Allowance came in two parts:
My financial side was declined late September / early October, 2015.
My health side continued throughout November, December, 2015 and January, February 2016. During which, I received numerous letters and text messages stating: “if I did not supply this information or I did not attend this meeting my benefits would be stopped”.
I failed the medical assessment on the 27th February and again with the Mandatory Reconsideration.
Although my appeal was “set aside” on the 5th July, 2016, it was not until I received an e-mail from Mr. Matt Warman, MP on the 17th August 2016 that I realised the two parts had finally been placed together and I was not entitled to any benefits.
This situation raises so many questions and I will never understand why:
SO MANY PEOPLE – SO MUCH TIME – WASTED!
I trust the Department for Work and Pensions is satisfied with their conclusions and they have offered the appropriate “help and support” at the correct times.
Sadly the DWP thinks they have given me their best attention and offered me to re-start the process again, with another medical assessment – I don’t think so!
Horrified to hear of your experience, even though I am familiar with this horrific process. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go through the whole process again. But how will you manage financially? Please let us know how you are .