Disability campaign groups in South East London have welcomed the findings of a United Nations report that says the UK government is “violating disabled people’s rights”.
The UN report concluded that the closure of welfare policies and the narrowing criteria of benefits “hindered disabled people’s right to live independently and be included in the community”. The report discussed the impact of cuts to the Independent Living Fund (ILF), the ‘Bedroom Tax’, and benefits like Personal Independence Payments and the Employment and Support Allowance.
Roz Hardie, Director of the Lewisham Disability Coalition, said: “We welcome the UN Report and the opportunity it provides to raise the issue of the impact of cuts to welfare rights and other support for disabled people.”
Referring to the recently released Ken Loach film, Hardie added: “‘Daniel Blake’ stories fill our heavy caseload and we supported over a thousand clients last year to navigate a confusing system.”
John Thornton, Acting Chair of Disability BackUp, in Hackney, said: “We welcome this report, which exposes the very real economic and social pressures faced by us, as disabled people, after years of harsh spending cuts to social security and social care.”
In September, the disability charity Inclusion London, published a report a year on from the closure of the ILF. The report found that former ILF recipients who had community care assessments experienced reductions in levels of their care funding. Lewisham came out as one of the worst areas hit with 36 per cent of former recipients now receiving reductions in their care.
Ellen Clifford, Campaigns and Policy Manager at Inclusion London, said: “We have seen the rights and freedoms that disabled people fought for and won over the past thirty years snatched away in the name of austerity.”
“This should not be happening in a nation as wealthy as ours,” she added.
According to the Department of Work and Pensions the UK spends around 50bn more than France, Canada and the USA in supporting sick and disabled people. More of its GDP than countries including France, Canada and the USA.”
Hardie said: “Our clients and members tell us that the money that recently went to the Department of Work and Pensions to make it harder for claimants to appeal could have been much better spent creating suitable jobs for those disabled people.”
£22 million was allocated to the DWP in the last budget to recruit “presenting officers” to support the government in PIP and ESA tribunals.