Disability UNCRPD findings

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UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

In 2007, under the last Labour government, the UK signed up to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We could be proud in that we not only signed the convention, we moved quickly to ratify and even raised a issue when it was felt that Brunei Darussalam failed to make clear under what exact legal grounds it would be justified not to apply the convention. The convention is a remarkable piece of work developed over years of work and international diplomacy. The convention was opened for signature on 30th March and the UK signed on that day. On its opening day the convention received the highest number of signatories in history of any UN convention. The convention was ratified by 177 countries[1] with the UK fully ratifying on the 8th June 2009. [2]

UN - UK commitment.PNG

As well as being an early signatory and ratifier of the convention, the UK holds the dubious accolade of being the first country to be investigated for contravening the convention and, worse still, to be found to have committed "grave and systematic violations"[3] of the convention.[4]

The UN investigators met with approximately 200 parties and collected 3000 documents. The investigation centred around the Welfare Act 2012, as well as in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 and the impact these acts had on the welfare of people with disabilities. It was concluded both were enacted for reasons of austerity.

  1. Countries that ratified UNCRPD: https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-15&chapter=4&clang=_en#EndDec
  2. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Articles: adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It was Opened for signature on 30 March 2007 and the UK signed immediately. The UK ratified 8 June 2009 https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-2.html
  3. Section 1.5 During its eleventh session, held in April 2014, the Committee assessed all the information before it and determined, pursuant to article 6 of the Convention and rule 84 of its rules of procedure, that there was reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations of the rights set forth in the Convention. The Committee established an inquiry and appointed two of its members as rapporteurs, whose decision was communicated to the State party on 29 May 2014 Media:CRPDC5R2Rev1.pdf
  4. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 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: Report of the Committee Media:CRPDC5R2Rev1.pdf

Findings: UK Systematic violations of the Convention

The following can be found in section VII section E - Systematic violations of the Convention

The UN Committee concluded that there is reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met in the State party. That conclusion is based on the following findings:

(a) The State party has implemented a policy aimed at reforming its welfare system and the reforms have been justified in the context of austerity measures to achieve fiscal and budgetary policy consolidation;

(b) The assumptions made under the policy include that: taxpayers need to be treated with fairness; large numbers of persons with disabilities have been relying and dependent on social benefits; persons are better off in work than on benefits; the dependency of persons with disabilities on benefits is in itself a disincentive to move them into employment; the number of persons with disabilities relying on social benefits were to be decreased; and tightening sanctions and conditionality of social benefits is a legitimate tool for incentivizing their moving into employment;

(c) The impact assessments conducted by the State party prior to the implementation of several measures of its welfare reform expressly foresaw an adverse impact on persons with disabilities;

(d) Several measures have disproportionally and adversely affected the rights of persons with disabilities;

(e) Measures resulting in reduction of support provided to meet the extra cost of disability, denial of reasonable accommodation in assessment procedures and realization of the right to employment have had a discriminatory effect on persons with disabilities;

(f) The core elements of the rights to independent living and being included in the community, an adequate standard of living and social protection and their right to employment have been affected: persons with disabilities affected by policy changes have had their freedom of choice and control over their daily activities restricted, the extra cost of disability has been set aside and income protection has been curtailed as a result of benefit cuts, while the expected policy goal of achieving decent and stable employment is far from being attained;

(g) There is evidence that a large number of persons with disabilities have been affected (e.g. 13,900 persons with disabilities have lost their Motability schemes and therefore their adapted cars, upon implementation of Personal Independence Payment up to February 2016; 492,180 had been placed in the Employment and Support Allowance work related activity group by end of 2015; 41,792 Employment and Support Allowance work related activity group sanctions were handed out up to March 2014);

(h) Evidence gathered nationally by the Parliament, the independent monitoring framework, universities and research institutes and centres and independent experts, has documented adverse and disproportionate effects of measures on persons with disabilities;

(i) The State party has not conducted a comprehensive human rights-based cumulative impact assessment even though reliable sources have indicated it is feasible;

(j) The State party continues its policy of reducing social benefits of persons with disabilities as reflected in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.

UN Committee Recommendations

The following can be found in section VIII - Recommendations of the UN report

The Committee recommended that the State party:

(a) Conduct a cumulative impact assessment of the measures adopted since 2010, referred to in the present report, on the rights to independent living and to be included in the community, social protection and employment of persons with disabilities. The State party should ensure that such assessment is rights-based and meaningfully involves persons with disabilities and their representative organizations;

(b) Ensure that any intended measure of the welfare reform is rights-based, upholds the human rights model of disability and does not disproportionately and/or adversely affect the rights of persons with disabilities to independent living, an adequate standard of living and employment. To prevent adverse consequences, the State party should carry out human rights-based cumulative impact assessments of the whole range of intended measures that would have an impact on the rights of persons with disabilities;

(c) Ensure that: any intended legislation and/or policy measure respects the core elements of the rights analysed in the present report; persons with disabilities retain their autonomy, choice and control over their place of residence and with whom they live; they receive appropriate and individualized support, including through personal assistance, and have access to community-based services on an equal basis with others; they have access to security social schemes that ensure income protection, including in relation to the extra cost of disability, that is compatible with an adequate standard of living and ensures their full inclusion and participation in society; and they have access and are supported in gaining employment in the open labour market on an equal basis with others;

(d) Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures;

(e) Introduce all adjustments necessary to make all information, communications, administrative and legal procedures in relation to social security

Government Response to UN Findings

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green rejected the report's findings and said the document demonstrated "an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive".

"The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people," he said.

"The UK is a recognised world leader in disabled rights and equality. Not only do we spend about £50bn a year to support sick and disabled people, but we also offer a wide range of tailored and effective support, which this report fails to recognise."

He added: "Our work and health Green Paper marks a turning point in our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings within the minds of employers and across wider society."[1]

Interestingly the report's recommendations were rejected in full, despite the committee having trawled through vast quantities of evidence and including submissions from disparate groups. The other sections on this page give a clear picture on the true situation and how it is in fact money that needs putting into the system. The structure was already in place, but was then starved of resources.

The full UK response can be found in Chapter 3 of this document

  1. UN: 'Grave' disability rights violations under UK reforms: BBC, published 7th November 2016 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37899305

What Labour said

The previous Labour government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The next Labour government will sign the UNCRPD into UK law.[1]

  1. Labour manifesto: People with Disabilities Manifesto - People with Disabilities