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UK government violated rights of disabled people: UN

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 3:00
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a2207942-f877-403f-a214-898dc8bb1b78A group of disabled people protest against austerity measures in London. (File photo)

The UK government’s welfare reforms are tantamount to a “systematic violation” of the rights of people with disabilities, according to an inquiry by the United Nations.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled Persons (CRPD), which published the report in Geneva on Monday afternoon, slammed the ruling Conservative Party’s cuts to disability benefits and social care budgets, saying such austerity measures “disproportionately affected” the disabled.

“The committee observes that measures have caused financial hardship to persons with disabilities resulting in… arrears, debts, evictions and cuts to essentials such as housing and food,” the CRPD said of the measures which were introduced in 2010.

The highly critical report noted that uncertain assessments by welfare assessors showed their “lack of awareness and limited knowledge of disability rights and specific needs” and subjected disabled people to “anxiety and psychological strain.”

According to the CRPD, among other measures, housing benefit reforms along with the narrowing of the criteria for social care “hindered disabled people’s right to live independently and be included in the community.”

The UN committee then made 11 recommendations to London, ranging from conducting complete impact assessment of reforms to fighting “negative and discriminatory stereotypes.”

London’s response

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was not happy with the report’s findings and deemed it “offensive,” according to Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green.

Green slammed the report as “an outdated view of disability which is patronizing and offensive,” accusing the UN of paying attention only to “the amount of money poured into the system” rather than the outcomes.

The Labour Party, however, was in favor of the inquiry’s conclusions, with shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, saying that the report confirmed that May was “failing sick and disabled people.”

London joined the committee in 2007 and was the first member to undergo the investigation.

In order to conduct the report, two CRPD agents visited London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast in October last year.


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