Photo credit: Knox O (Wasi Daniju) via photopin cc

A coalition of Disabled people’s organisations has written to the Prime Minister, urging her to meet with them to discuss the deteriorating quality of life experienced by millions of disabled people in the UK.

The call comes exactly six months since the United Nations’ damning report on the UK Government’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), which accused the UK Government of “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.

The report, published last August, made a number of recommendations but disabled people’ organisations which gave evidence to the UN say that the Government is not taking the urgent action required

The coalition has highlighted five areas of particular concern:

  1. The failure to fully implement the 2010 Equality Act.
  2. The lack of joined up working across the 4 nations of the UK.
  3. The lack of resources to ensure disabled people’s right to independent living and inclusion in their communities.
  4. The continuing gap in employment opportunities for disabled people.
  5. The right of disabled people to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London and Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance member, said:

“6 months on from the UN Disability Committee’s damning verdict on this Government failure to protect and progress Disabled people’s rights, things continue to get worse not better for Disabled people.

“The Government appears to be maintaining its position of blanket denial that there is anything wrong, dismissing our lived experience, the UN findings and failing to act on any of the recommendations put forward in the Committee’s Concluding Observations. This state of affairs cannot continue.

“Disabled people’s organisations from across the UK are calling on the Government to recognise the very serious concerns identified by the UN Disability Committee and to use the Concluding Observations as an opportunity to begin working with, not against Disabled people, so we can get our rights, inclusion and equality back on track.”

The coalition members include:

Disability Rights UK; Inclusion Scotland; Disability Wales; Disability Action Northern Ireland; Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance; Disabled People Against Cuts; Black Triangle; Alliance for Inclusive Education; British Deaf Association; People First, National Mental Health System Service Users Network; UK Disabled People’s Council; Equal Lives; Inclusion London.

The letter

Dear Prime Minister

United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

We are a coalition of disabled people’s organisations, led and controlled by disabled people, who, following our participation in the UN’s examination of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) have come together to promote the Convention.

We are writing to draw your attention to the fact that the examination by the U.N. of the U.K.’s implementation of the CRPD was concluded in Geneva six months ago and that, to date, there appears to have been no response from HM Government. In its Concluding Observations, a number of areas for action were identified.

Among these, the UNCRPD committee particularly highlighted five significant areas of concern:

  1. the many gaps in safeguards and rights for disabled people including unimplemented sections of the Equality Act 2010, the lack of resources to ensure the Equality Act is implemented, and the need to enshrine the CRPD into U.K. law as we leave the E.U.
  2. the lack of joined up working between the four nations of the U.K. and the need for a fully resourced action plan to implement the CRPD across the U.K.
  3. our right to independent living and to be included in the community.
  4. our right to employment and
  5. our right to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Further the U.N. committee recognised that the U.K. has previously been seen as a leader on disability rights by many countries around the world and therefore has a ‘special obligation’ to set world leading standards on the treatment of disabled people and their inclusion in society.  Sadly, the committee concluded that the UK’s leading position has been lost.

We note that during the two-day hearing in Geneva, 23 and 24th August, the U.K. Government delegation gave a commitment to continuing the dialogue on how disabled people’s rights can be realised in the U.K. and specifically how engagement might be improved.

In the spirit of Article 4.3 of the Convention, general obligations involvement of disabled people and their representative organisations we are willing, and indeed expect, to work with you on progressing disabled people’s rights across the whole spectrum covered by the Convention from access through to being included in the community and being able to realise our ambitions and potential.

We should therefore like to request a meeting with you and your officials to discuss:

  1. How government is implementing the UNCRPD committee’s concluding observations, and
  2. How Government plans to work with organisations led by disabled people monitoring and implementing the Convention.

We trust that the Government will embrace the need to be more proactive in promoting and implementing disabled people’s rights and inclusion in society. We look forward to hearing from you further and working with government on an action plan to complete the implementation of the rights of disabled people detailed in the CRPD which was ratified by the U.K. in 2009.

Our expectation is that the U.K. will once again be seen as a leader in implementing the human rights of disabled people by all countries across the world.

Your faithfully

Tracey Lazard – CEO Inclusion London

Linda Burnip – Disabled People Against Cuts

John McArdle – Black Triangle

Tara Flood – CEO Alliance for Inclusive Education

Anne Novis – UK Disabled People’s Council

Mark Harrison – CEO Equal Lives

Andrew Lee – CEO People First

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