Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tories must restore the rights of disabled people scrapped under Coronavirus Act

Letter signed by more than 60 organisations including Disability Rights UK, Inclusion London, Liberty and Mind.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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. 

  1. Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton
  2. Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea
  3. Action on Hearing Loss
  4. Alliance for Inclusive Education
  5. Being the Boss
  6. Black Belt Advocacy
  7. Breakthrough
  8. British Institute of Human Rights
  9. Business Disability Form
  10. Camden Disability Action
  11. Camden Disability Association
  12. Chronic Illness Inclusion Project
  13. Directory of Social Change
  14. Disability Advice Service Lambeth
  15. Disability Network Hounslow
  16. Disability North
  17. Disability Peterborough
  18. Disability Positive
  19. Disability Rights UK
  20. Disability Sheffield
  21. Divers Cymru
  22. DPAC North East and Cumbria
  23. Evenbreak
  24. Greater Manchesert Coalition of Disabled People
  25. Greenwich DPAC
  26. HAFAL
  27. Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against the Cuts
  28. Harrow Association of Disabled People
  29. Harrow Mencap
  30. Inclusion Barnet
  31. Inclusion London
  32. KeyRing Living Support Network
  33. Leeds Disabled Peoples Organisation
  34. Leicestershire Centre for Independent Living
  35. Leonard Cheshire
  36. Liberty
  37. London Autistic Rights Movement
  38. McPin
  39. MENCAP
  40. Merton CIL
  41. National Survivor User Network
  42. National Voices
  43. People First Self Advocacy
  44. POhWER
  45. Reclaiing our Futures Alliance
  46. Rethink Mental Illness
  47. Richmond Aid
  48. RNIB
  49. Royal College of Occupational Therapists
  50. RUILs
  51. SCOPE
  52. SENSE
  53. Shaping our Lives
  54. Spectrum Centre for Independent Living CIC
  55. Sunderland People First
  56. The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
  57. Visual Impaired in Camden
  58. VoiceAbility
  59. Wheels for Wellbeing
  60. Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living
  61. WinVisible
  62. Wish
  63. Women’s Resource Centre

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