A report, published by Just Fair, has found that the UK government is in breach of its legal obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of disabled people.
‘Dignity and Opportunity for All: Securing the rights of disabled people in the austerity era' - analyses the impact on disabled people of public austerity and the reform of social security.
The report, the first comprehensive analysis of the extent to which the UK government is meeting its international obligations to realise the rights of disabled people in the austerity era, examines the rights to independent living, work, social security, social protection and an adequate standard of living.
Just Fair, a consortium of charities for housing, social security, education, equality, employment and health, concludes that government policies are compromising disabled people's enjoyment of these fundamental rights, causing significant hardship.
Three areas of social security policy were of concern: Employment and Support Allowance (long term sickness benefit) and the Work Capability Assessment, Personal Independence Payment (for support with disability-related costs), and The housing benefit size criteria for claimants in social housing (reduced housing support for households with a ‘spare' bedroom).
On housing benefit changes the report said reforms limiting the amount of housing benefit payable on the basis of the size of home deemed to be required by non-disabled claimants and their families could have a serious impact on disabled people's enjoyment of the right to independent living.
Disabled people often have a disability related reason for needing more space - for an overnight carer, for example, or to store or use medical or disability equipment. Some may need extra space because they are unable to share a room with a sibling or partner because of their impairment or health condition.
The report concluded: "We strongly recommend that the Government re-evaluate these reforms, especially the social housing size criteria, in the light of its obligations under UNCRPD Article 19, taking account of recent recommendations made by the Work and Pensions Select Committee to make further exemptions for disabled people."
On the reform of the Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), the report concluded: "We strongly recommend that the planned reviews of PIP include effective analysis of its practical impact on disabled people's independence, including their mobility and their participation in employment, social activities and community and family life."
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