Category: Equality Act

Disabled people are once again confronting the spectre of social isolation – Jane Campbell

 

Superficially the UK leads the world on disability rights, but colossal cuts are undermining the progress made over the last few decades
 
Lady Jane Campbell at her home in Surbiton, Surrey
Lady Jane Campbell served on the House of Lords select committee reviewing the impact of the Equality Act. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

On Monday, disabled representatives from disability organisations across England, Scotland and Wales presented reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva. It is now eight years since the UK ratified the UNCRPD with cross-party support and this is the committee’s first full examination of the UK’s performance.

So how are we doing? The government is fond of claiming that the UK is a “world leader” on disability rights. Superficially, this claim remains fairly accurate. We have the most comprehensive and proactive equality law anywhere in the world; social care legislation and practice that embodies the principle of choice and control; a social security system that claims to recognise the extra costs of disability; and law and regulations to advance accessibility.

It is important to remind ourselves of what disabled people have achieved over the past 30-40 years of disability rights activism, as we have charted our journey from objects of care and charity to becoming active, contributing citizens. But any assessment of progress cannot be confined solely to what we now have, or where we were in the past. And judging by the UK’s direction of travel, the government’s claim of world leadership quickly unravels: we are seeing big cuts to services and watering down of rights and opportunities of disabled people. 

Last year, I served on the House of Lords select committee, reviewing the impact of the Equality Act on disabled people. We found that this government’s deregulatory zeal and spending cuts significantly undermined the intended effect of the act. Employment tribunal fees, legal aid cuts and loss of advice services have put the act’s protection beyond the reach of most disabled people. And colossal cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s budget have left the act under-promoted and unenforced.

The UK’s mental health and mental capacity laws fail to comply with the CRPD, which stipulates that disability cannot be grounds for denying people equal recognition before the law or for depriving people of their liberty. Yet in England, there has been a 10% rise in detention each year for the past two years. More than half of these cases related to people with dementia, and a significant minority to adults with learning disabilities. The sanctioned use of restraint, seclusion and anti-psychotic medication remains commonplace on mental health and learning disabilty wards, violating people’s rights to physical and mental integrity and to live free from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.

NHS benchmarking data revealed that there were 9,600 uses of restraint during August 2015 in mental health wards in England, while the Learning Disability Census 2015 found that one-third of patients with a learning disability were subject to the use of restraint in 2015-16.

Unexpected deaths of mental health in-patients, or those cared for at home in England, are up by 21% yet, unlike deaths in police, prison or immigration detention, there is no system of independent investigation. Since 2011, hospitals in England have investigated just 222 out of 1,638 deaths of patients with learning disabilities. Among deaths they classed as unexpected, hospitals inquired into just over a third.

The Care Act fails to ensure disabled people’s right to independent living, and swingeing cuts in health, social care and benefits are eroding the availability of support and people’s right to exercise choice and control. Disabled people are confronting the spectre of re-institutionalisation as councils and clinical commissioning groups limit the amount they spend on individual packages of support

The UN disability rights committee has already reported on the negative impact of the UK’s measures to cut social security spending. Yet further disability benefit cuts continue to be implemented and the extension of punitive sanctions to those hitherto assessed as unable to work is being proposed on the back of declining investment in employment support.

“Nothing about us without us” is the international motto of the disability rights movement, but there is little evidence of disabled people being involved in policy development. The last 10 years have seen the proportion of public appointees with a self-declared disability halve in number, while helpful measures to support more disabled people into politics, such as the Access to Elected Office Fund, have been suspended in England.

Advancing the rights of disabled people requires good leadership to establish coherence and coordination in Whitehall, and in devolved and local government. The Office for Disability Issues was set up for this very task, but has become a shadow of its former self. But in Wales and Scotland, things are more positive, with the convention firmly embedded in policy and strategy. 

If the UK wants to maintain the mantle of world leader on disability rights, it must see the forthcoming examination as an opportunity to listen and take stock. If it fails to do so, current and future generations of disabled people face the slow, inexorable slide back towards social death once again.

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The government is failing in its legal duty of care to disabled people

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The House of Lords Select Committee
on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability investigating the Act’s impact on disabled people has concluded that the Government is failing in its duty of care to disabled people. From taxi drivers refusing to take disabled people, to “disgraceful” accessibility at sports grounds, to pubs and clubs failing to provide disabled toilets, the report, entitled The Equality Act 2010: the impact on disabled people, says practice in all areas must be improved.

Comment of Baroness Deech, Chairman

“Over the course of our inquiry we have been struck by how disabled people are let down across the whole spectrum of life.

“Access to public buildings remains an unnecessary challenge to disabled people. Public authorities can easily side-step their legal obligations to disabled people, and recent changes in the courts have led to disabled people finding it harder to fight discrimination.

“When it comes to the law requiring reasonable adjustments to prevent discrimination, we found that there are problems in almost every part of society, from disabled toilets in restaurants being used for storage, to schools refusing interpreters for deaf parents, to reasonable adjustments simply not being made.

“In the field of transport alone, we heard of an urgent need to meet disabled people’s requirements – whether it’s training for staff or implementing improvements to trains and buses – and we’re calling for all new rail infrastructure to incorporate step-free access in its design from the outset.

“The Government bears the ultimate responsibility for enabling disabled people to participate in society on equal terms, and we believe it is simply not discharging that responsibility. Not only has the Government dragged its heels in bringing long-standing provisions of the Act into force, such as those requiring taxi drivers to take passengers in wheelchairs, but has in fact repealed some provisions which had protected disabled people. Intended to reduce the regulatory burden on business, the reality has been an increase in the burden on disabled people.

“The Committee would like to see changes right at the top of Government and is calling for the Minister for Disabled People to be given a place on the Cabinet’s Social Justice Committee. 

“It’s time to reverse the attitude that disabled people are an afterthought. Many of the changes we suggest are simple and do not require legislation. We hope the Government will implement them quickly.”

Findings in the report include:

Transport

The Government should bring into force immediately provisions in the Act obliging taxi drivers to take passengers with wheelchairs. In cases where taxi drivers fail to comply with the Act local authorities should withhold the licences of drivers.

All new rail infrastructure must build into its design step-free access; retrofitting of stock with audio/visual annunciators must be prioritised; training for all rail, bus and coach staff must be made a legal requirement.

Sports grounds

These have been described as “disgraceful” by the Minster for Disabled People and new measures are needed. Ministers must report on the progress made on stadia, following the Premier League’s promise to upgrade all their stadia by August 2017.

Housing and public spaces

Many restaurants, pubs and clubs are difficult to access, with many not providing basic facilities such as a disabled toilet. Local authorities should be allowed to refuse to grant or renew these premises’ licences until they make the necessary changes.

The design of new buildings is another area where local authorities could require new buildings to be wheelchair accessible or adaptable, simply by revising their planning policies.

Communications and democratic inclusion

Communications is an area where disabled people are still being failed. We recommend that all Government departments, local authorities and public bodies review how they communicate with disabled people, and that disabled people must be involved in this process.

The law and enforcement

Developments in recent years have made fighting discrimination more difficult for disabled people. New tribunal fees, less access to legal aid, and procedural changes have combined to create barriers to the effective enforcement of disabled people’s rights. Changes are recommended to combat this.

The Equality Act 2010 was intended to harmonise all discrimination law and to strengthen the law to support progress on equality.

Over the past nine months the Committee has been examining the Equality Act 2010 and in particular its impact on disabled people, looking at areas such as:

·    Implementation
·    Enforcement
·    Reasonable adjustment
·    Transport
·    Communication
·    The Equality and Human Rights Commission
·    Discrimination and the judicial process

During the course of the inquiry the Committee received nearly 180 pieces of written evidence and heard from more than 50 witnesses, among them the Government Equalities Office, the Office for Disability Issues, Disability Rights UK, RNIB, Scope, MIND, British Deaf Association, the Bar Council, Law Society, Discrimination Law Association, Law Centres Network, People First Advocacy, Business Disability Forum, Association of Convenience Stores, Trade Unions Congress, Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, campaign group Transport for All, NHS England, Care Quality Commission, Ofsted, the Independent Parental Special Educational Advice, Association of Train Operating Companies, Confederation of Passenger Transport, Housing Law Practitioners Association, Lewisham Shopmobility Scheme, National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Carers UK, and officials from the Department for Transport, Department for Education, Department of Health, Department for Communities and Local Government, and Department for Work and Pensions.

The Committee took evidence from Government ministers Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Department for Education; Justin Tomlinson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People, Department for Work and Pensions; and Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport. 

The Committee also heard first-hand testimonies from disabled people as well as visiting a user-led support organisation for disabled people, Real.

Watch the Chair of Equality Act 2010 and Disability Committee Baroness Deech and member of Committee Baroness Campbell of Surbiton discuss the findings of the report, ‘The Equality Act 2010: the impact on disabled people.’ Film with British Sign Language.

Government inaction is failing disabled people

Summary of the Committee’s recommendations.

DWP’s decision to abolish the Independent Living Fund overturned thanks to Labour’s Equality Act, but the court ruling is ignored.

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In a very significant decision on 6 November 2013, which highlights the effects of the Equality Act 2010 on public authorities and their decision-making, the Court of Appeal has 
found that the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) decision to close the Independent Living Fund was not lawful, overturning the High Courts’ decision of April 2013. The Government had indicated that it would not be appealing this judgement and the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will remain intact for now. 

People with disabilities may receive funding under the ILF: a non-departmental Government body which provides money to help disabled people live independent lives in the community. The ILF operates an independent discretionary trust funded by the DWP and managed by a board of trustees. Its aim is to combat social exclusion on the grounds of disability and the money is generally used to enable disabled people to live in their own homes and to pay for care which would otherwise need to be given at residential care homes.

Over 19,000 disabled people receive assistance from the fund and the money is allocated by local authorities. Due to budget cuts, local authorities have had limited ability to support individuals unless their needs are very severe and so the ILF has served to supplement this provision.

In 2010, the Government indicated that the ILF was considered financially unsustainable and that it would consult to develop a new model for the future care and support of ILF users.  The consultation launched in July 2012 sought the views of: ILF users; their families and carers; interested individuals; and organisations, on the proposal to close the ILF in 2015 and on how best existing users of the ILF could have their needs met after closure.  The Government stated that its preferred option was to devolve funding to local government.

However, the Government has since stated that money will be devolved to already cash-strapped local authorities in England, which means that it would cease to be ring-fenced and would be subject to normal constraints and cuts within a local authority budget. And the local authorities have already said that they will not be able to offer the current level of financial support provided on ILF, potentially forcing many disabled people to move out of their homes and into residential care homes.

The Government initially decided to close the fund by March 2015 but this was delayed until June 2015 after five disabled people challenged the Government’s decision in the High Court.

The Court of Appeal unanimously quashed the decision to close the fund and devolve the money, on the basis that the minister had not specifically considered duties under the Equality Act, such as the need to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people and, in particular, the need to encourage their participation in public life. The court emphasised that these considerations were not optional in times of austerity.

On March 6, 2014, the Government announced in authoritarian style that it would go ahead with the closure of the ILF fund on 30th June 2015, saying that a new equalities analysis had been carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions. The government has shown a complete disregard for disabled people and the Court of Appeal decision. The government had failed to comply with the equality duty – and this was a rare victory entirely due to disabled people fighting back.

Unite national officer for equalities Siobhan Endean said: “Unite believes that the closure of the Independent Living Fund will have a catastrophic impact on disabled people and their right to live independent and fulfilling lives.”

“Ministers decided not to appeal, but have instead carried out a new equality impact assessment to justify the closure. Many other changes to benefits and local authority services are also undermining independent living.”

The papers released during the judicial review reveal that the Government was banking on the closure of the ILF receiving very little attention from the public and mainstream media because it only affects relatively few people. They are calculating on the British public not caring enough about our human rights.  We hope they have miscalculated.

Labour has called for the retention of this vital fund which benefits the most severely disabled. To show her support for the retention of Independent Living Fund, which is relied upon by over 19,000 severely disabled, Labour’s Dame Anne Begg is the primary sponsor an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to reverse their decision to close the fund in June 2015. You can view the EDM here. You can also ask your MP to sign it.

The successful judicial review is a useful demonstration of how strictly the courts will consider whether or not a public body has complied with its Public Sector Equality Duties (PSED) imposed by the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010). There must be hard evidence that the “decision maker”  has fully complied with the requirements contained in the legislation, specifically, in this case, the duties under Section 149 in relation to advancing equality of opportunity for those who share a relevant protected characteristic.

In particular, Lord Justice McCombe restated that the court must ensure that there has been a proper and conscientious focus on the statutory criteria, rather than simply a “tick box” approach. He noted that the EA 2010 placed real obligations on the Minister under section 149 to consider, amongst other things, “the need to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it” and to, “take steps to meet the needs of persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are different from the needs of persons who do not share it.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the Appellants that documents which the Minister (Esther McVey) had seen in the run up to her decision proved that, “the Minister did not receive a sufficient understanding of the true threat to independent living for ILF users posed by the proposal to close the fund”  The Minister had received from her officials a somewhat toned down summary of the response to the consultation which did not give her a “true flavour” of the real level of threat to users posed by the proposal to close the ILF. The Court agreed that the detail set out in the local authority responses to the consultation which clearly articulated concerns about the effect of closure on users, was not seen by the Minister.

As a result, the Court of Appeal rejected the DWP’s argument that the Minister was fully aware of the effects of the proposal. The DWP’s argument was based largely on “common sense inferences” that by virtue of her role as Minister for Disabled People and the fact that she was considering the impact of closing a fund aimed at the independent living of disabled people, it will have been obvious to her that independent living may not be possible for all users. The Court of Appeal noted that a heavy burden is imposed by the EA 2010 on public authorities and therefore, there has to be hard evidence that the public body has discharged that duty.

The Labour Party included a commitment to an Equality Bill in its 2005 election manifesto. The Discrimination Law Review was established in 2005 to develop the legislation and was led by the Government Equalities Office. The review considered the findings of the Equalities Review Panel, chaired by Trevor Phillips, which reported in February 2007. 

The Act was intended to simplify the law by bringing together previous existing anti-discrimination legislation. The primary purpose of Labour’s Equality Act 2010 is to codify the complicated and numerous array of Acts and Regulations, which formed the basis of anti-discrimination law in Great Britain previously. One of the most radical aspects of the Equality Act was its recognition of class – socio-economic disadvantage, apart from other protected and universally accepted characteristics.

This legislation has the same goals as the four major EU Equal Treatment Directives, whose provisions it mirrors and implements, although it extends beyond EU Directives. It requires equal treatment in access to employment as well as private and public services, regardless of the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

However, it’s worth noting that the achievements of the British Equality Acts 2006 and 2010 are being seriously undermined by actions of the Coalition Government at a time when recession and cuts in public services are having a disproportionate impact on women, working families, jobseekers, ethnic minorities, the elderly, and disabled people. The Home Secretary said 5 May 2011 that it is not the intention of the Government to abolish the Equality Act. But we are witnessing “death by a thousand cuts.”

As Sir Bob Hepple QC has pointed out, some provisions of the Labour Government’s EA are not being brought into force, (only roughly 90% of the Act came into force, after the Coalition quickly said it would be “reviewing several sections of the legislation passed by parliament in April 2010,”) whilst other provisions have been repealed by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (ERR) Bill, including the duty on public authorities to have due regard to the need to reduce socio-economic inequalities.

The failure to implement the Act in full certainly sends out a clear signal that creating a more equal society is a very low priority for the coalition.

The budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has being reduced by over 60%, its staffing cut by 72%, and its powers restricted. As from April 2013 claimants in discrimination cases in tribunals will have to pay an issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950.

The public sector equality duty needs to be strengthened and strategic litigation used to force the pace of change. The further threats to the legal infrastructure make it all the more important to rally and mobilise all disadvantaged groups around equality as a fundamental human right at this crucial time. The “death by a thousand cuts” is not incidental. Once again we are seeing one element of a Tory-led planned and coordinated attack on our most vulnerable citizens, with plain evidence that this government is deliberately bypassing our rights in order to impose cruel austerity cuts on those with least.

And just in case you had any doubts about this government’s strong authoritarian tendency, it emerged last month that Government proposals making it much harder for ministers are to be challenged in the courts and have been slammed in a report by parliamentarians. Labour have strongly attacked the proposals.

A report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights extended the criticisms already voiced by MPs to Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary behind the reforms. It says ministers’ proposal to only make legal aid payable if permission for the judicial review is granted is “a potentially serious interference with access to justice”.

Grayling combines that role with his title of Lord Chancellor, a position which has for centuries defended the judiciary.

Now MPs and peers have declared a “thoroughgoing review” of the dual role is needed because, they suggest, Graylings’ moves to undermine the rule of law are politically motivated.

Importantly, the Committee also concluded that the legal aid changes – which are now in effect – have been made without sufficient opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny. The Report recommends that the Government void the Regulations and make amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. 

Both Grayling and May have made admissions that they could not conceive of a situation where a majority Conservative government would not repeal the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights.

The Human Rights Act and the ability of UK citizens and residents to take appeals to the European Court of Human Rights has received considerable propagandarised criticism in the UK media and the Conservative party, who claim that the Act has “ushered in a regime of “political correctness”” and who have focussed on a small number of high-profile cases involving foreign prisoners and detainees to try and discredit it.  

The effect of the UK Human Rights Act 1998 was to make the rights specified in the European Convention of Human Rights enforceable in UK courts.  The act is described in official Ministry of Justice information releases as “the most important piece of constitutional legislation passed in the United Kingdom since the achievement of universal suffrage in 1918” and gives UK citizens and residents protection against abuses of civil rights and personal freedoms by state and governmental authorities.

This Government wants to take that protection away, it considers itself above the law, and is relentlessly working to undermine our access to justice and protection from the Government itself. The real horror hits home when you ask yourself why.

They cannot be allowed to remain in Office another term. 

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 Many thanks to Rob Livingstone for his excellent pictures

The UK Government have got it wrong about our Human Rights.

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The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights has conducted an inquiry into the UK Government’s implementation of Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) – the right to live independently and to be included in the community. The inquiry which began in 2011 has received evidence from over 300 witnesses.

The inquiry has highlighted just how little awareness, understanding and employment of the Convention there is by the Tory-led Government.  Very few of the witnesses made specific reference to the Convention in their presented evidence, despite the inquiry being conducted by the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, with the terms of reference clearly framing the inquiry as being about Article 19 of the UNCRPD.

“This finding is of international importance”, said Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director, “Our experience is that many Governments are of the view that the CRPD is nothing more than a policy nicety, rather than a treaty which sets out legal obligations which governments must fulfil.”

The report is particularly critical of the Minister for Disabled People (Maria Miller, at the time) who told the Committee that the CRPD was “soft law”. The Committee criticised this as “indicative of an approach to the treaty which regards the rights it protects as being of less normative force than those contained in other human rights instruments.” (See para. 23 in the report, the link is at the foot of this article.) The Committee’s view is that the CRPD is hard law, not soft law.

Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “We are concerned to learn that the right of disabled people to independent living may be at risk through the cumulative impact of current reforms. Even though the UK ratified the UNCPRD in 2009 with cross-party support, the Government is unable to demonstrate that sufficient regard has been paid to the Convention in the development of policy with direct relevance to the lives of disabled people. The right to independent living in UK law may need to be strengthened further, and we call on the Government and other interested organisations to consider the need for a free-standing right to independent living in UK law.”

“The Government is meant to include disabled people in making sure people have their human rights upheld. We are concerned that a part of the Law on treating people equally and fairly (Equality Act section 149) does not say any more that disabled people should be involved. This is a step backwards.”

In other words, the Tory-led Coalition has quietly removed this part of the Equality Act.

The budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which was established by the Labour Party when they were drafting this flagship policy, is being reduced by over 60%, its staffing cut by 72%, and its powers restricted by the Coalition. Provisions that are being repealed by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (ERR) Bill include the duty on public authorities to have due regard to the need to reduce socio-economic inequalities.

Savage Legal Aid cuts from April 2013 have also contributed significantly to creating further barriers to ensuring Equal Rights law protect us, and the Tory-driven Legal Aid Bill also contravenes our right to a fair trial under Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This is not a coincidental multiple policy timeline, but rather a very coordinated political attack on potential legal challenges at a time when Tory-led severe and devastating multiple welfare and provision cuts have affected disabled people so disproportionately. The changes, which came into effect in April, will hit the same group of disabled people over and over again”.

The threats to the legal infrastructure make it all the more important to mobilise all disadvantaged groups around equality as a fundamental human right.

The Report draws attention to several significant Human Rights issues, including:

  • the need for freestanding legislation to protect the right to independent living in UK law,
  • the effect of current reforms to benefits and services on the ability of disabled people to enjoy independent living,
  • the role played by the UNCRPD in policy development and decision-making at all levels of government,
  • the need for the use of equality impact assessments,
  • the effects of devolution on implementation of the UNCRPD, and
  • hate crime

The right to independent living does not exist as a free-standing right in UK law. Although it is protected and promoted to some extent by a matrix of rights, the Committee believes that this is not enough. It argues that the Government and other interested parties should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to establish independent living as a free-standing right. In addition, the Committee concludes that the UNCRPD is “hard law” and that the Government should fulfil their obligations under the Convention on that basis.

The Committee finds that:

  • reforms to benefits and services (let’s be frank here, they are not welfare “reforms”, they are cuts) risk leaving disabled people without the support they need to live independently;
  • restrictions in local authority eligibility criteria for social care support, the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and changes to housing benefit risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people;
  • people fear that the cumulative impact of these changes will force them out of their homes and local communities and into residential care.

It also finds that:

  • the Government has not conducted an Equality impact assessment of the cumulative impact of current “reforms” on disabled people. The Report urges them do so, and to report on the extent to which these “reforms “are enabling them and local authorities to comply with their obligations under the UNCRPD.
  • The Committee states that the Government should make a commitment to Parliament that they will give due consideration to the articles of the Convention when making legislation. The UNCRPD did not have a significant role in the development of policy and legislation, as is required by the Convention.

Furthermore, the Committee criticises changes to the duties of public authorities in England under the Equality Act 2010, which no longer require the production of equality impact assessments of changes in policy, nor the involvement of disabled people in developing policies which will affect them.

The Committee also expresses a major concern over a growing incidence of hate crime against disabled people and urges the Government take action to foster respect for the rights and dignity of disabled people.

Article 19 states that the Government must always ensure it “stops things getting worse.” This has NOT happened. The quality of so many sick and disabled people’s lives in this Country has been radically, significantly and DELIBERATELY reduced since the Tory-led Coalition took Office in 2010. This needs to change as a matter of urgency.

The Government’s “reforms” have led to a terrible increase in deaths amongst sick and disabled people, and we have already seen a significant rise in suicides that are directly linked with the Tory-driven austerity measures.

When we genuinely seek to improve the situation of the poorest and vulnerable, first of all we will need to spend time studying the privileged elite and their lifestyle choices of tax avoidance, their own economic lasciviousness and lack of capacity for personal and social responsibility.

We need to pay attention to Government handouts (of our money) to banks, private businesses and the wealthy: we need to appraise the dependency and culture of entitlement that these sponsored acts have fostered, and of course special focus should be on the amoral decisions and anti-social actions of the feckless, scrounging wealthy, and with particularly careful, critical scrutiny of the Government responsible for policies that re-distribute and concentrate our wealth and their advantage and power, therefore creating social divisions, inequality and poverty, perpetuating and extending it.

The Tory-led Coalition prefers to take money from the vulnerable, the sick and disabled, and hand it out to millionaires.

We need to ask why our Government refuses to instigate or agree an inquiry into the substantial rise in deaths amongst sick and disabled people, as these deaths are so clearly a direct consequence of this Government’s policies. What kind of Government uses the media to scape-goat and stigmatise sick and disabled people, by lying and inventing statistics to “justify” the persecution of some of our most vulnerable citizens, and the withdrawal of their crucial lifelines and support?

One that does not value those lives, or regard them as having an equal worth with others.

We are raising more money for the rich” – David Cameron, 12th December 2012


Further reading:

Archbishop Tartaglia adds to protest against Atos assessments which ‘trample on human dignity’

The European courts have their priorities wrong. Why aren’t they stopping the disability deaths? – Mike Sivier, Vox Political

Did They Hope We Wouldn’t Notice? Under The Smokescreen – John D Clare

The Coming Tyranny and The Legal Aid Bill – KittySJones

CRPD IS “HARD LAW” – UK PARLIAMENT

The Summary of the Report on Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living: easy read version  and the full length report

644117_408620012540866_785481358_nMany thanks to Robert Livingstone for his outstanding art work.