The government is being urged to restore the rights of disabled people in advance of the House of Commons debate on the six month review of the Coronavirus Act which will take place on 30 September.
The Coronavirus Act was passed in March, giving powers to central and local government to reduce the rights of disabled people to care, education and mental health protections.
No other minority group other than disabled people had minority-specific rights removed under the Coronavirus Act. The Act gave powers for local authorities to remove the fundamental human rights of disabled people entitled to care provision under the Care Act, and enabled the Secretary of State for Education to withdraw children’s rights to have their Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) fully delivered under Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) laws.
A group of over 60 organisations including Disability Rights UK, Inclusion London, Liberty and Mind have signed an open statement asking the government to withdraw the sections of the Coronavirus Act relating to disabled people and to restore our rights.
In addition, a letter signed by 30 peers, including Baroness Jane Campbell and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, has asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, to restore Care Act rights. [See notes for editors below.]
DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Almost two thirds of the deaths caused by Coronavirus between March and July were those of disabled people.
“As we move into winter and an increase in the rate of infection, the government needs to do more to support and protect disabled people. Removing our rights is not an acceptable strategy.
“What is needed is a level of funding sufficient to see local authorities through this winter, which will maintain the full rights of disabled people to the provisions they are entitled to under the Care Act.”
Scrap the Coronavirus Act provisions statement
We the undersigned call on the Government to restore and protect the rights of disabled people by removing the powers from the Coronavirus Act 2020 which diminish the rights of those who rely on social care and education support.
These powers were opposed by disabled people and allies, when they were introduced, have caused confusion and harm when operated and led to reductions in care, support, safeguards and education for disabled adults and children.
The evidence is clear as to the lethal and disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on disabled people. ONS figures show that disabled people have made up two thirds of all Coronavirus deaths and people with health conditions have been the hardest hit.
Research from Mencap shows that seven in ten people with a learning disability reported having their social care cut during the pandemic. With the potential of a second wave, it is imperative that the rights of disabled people are protected, not diminished.
The Coronavirus Act contains provisions allowing local authorities to reduce vital social care duties, weakens support and education for disabled children and young people, and enables the removal of basic legal safeguards that could severely impact the rights of people coming into contact with the mental health system.
At a time when people need care, support, safeguards and education the most, the powers for central and local government to reduce their legal responsibilities to disabled people are wholly unacceptable.
Our lives must be valued equally. Removing our rights causes us disadvantage and discrimination, and puts our mental and physical health and our lives at risk.
As the Coronavirus Act approaches its six-month review, now is the time to recognise the devastating impact the exercise of these powers has had and to restore the legal rights of disabled people.
- Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton
- Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea
- Action on Hearing Loss
- Alliance for Inclusive Education
- Being the Boss
- Black Belt Advocacy
- British Institute of Human Rights
- Business Disability Form
- Camden Disability Action
- Camden Disability Association
- Chronic Illness Inclusion Project
- Directory of Social Change
- Disability Advice Service Lambeth
- Disability Network Hounslow
- Disability North
- Disability Peterborough
- Disability Positive
- Disability Rights UK
- Disability Sheffield
- Divers Cymru
- DPAC North East and Cumbria
- Greater Manchesert Coalition of Disabled People
- Greenwich DPAC
- Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against the Cuts
- Harrow Association of Disabled People
- Harrow Mencap
- Inclusion Barnet
- Inclusion London
- KeyRing Living Support Network
- Leeds Disabled Peoples Organisation
- Leicestershire Centre for Independent Living
- Leonard Cheshire
- London Autistic Rights Movement
- Merton CIL
- National Survivor User Network
- National Voices
- People First Self Advocacy
- Reclaiing our Futures Alliance
- Rethink Mental Illness
- Richmond Aid
- Royal College of Occupational Therapists
- Shaping our Lives
- Spectrum Centre for Independent Living CIC
- Sunderland People First
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
- Visual Impaired in Camden
- Wheels for Wellbeing
- Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living
- Women’s Resource Centre