This government has been a disaster for disabled people

Under this government, disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non disabled people.

Under the coalition, disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non disabled people

This weekend, members of my party will be meeting to shape the policy programme that Labour will take into government.

At the heart of those discussions will be a determination to deliver the vision of One Nation Britain that Ed Miliband has committed us to. Nowhere will that commitment matter more than in relation to our policies for the equality, inclusion and participation of disabled people.

Today, we can see that, under the coalition government, that ambition is way off track.

Last week, an analysis by Just Fair, a consortium which campaigns for a fairer and more just society, demonstrated just how damaging the government’s policies have been for disabled people. Just Fair argue that the UK risks  breaching our international obligations to the rights and equality of disabled people as a result of the government’s policies.

Labour is determined that our approach will be to ensure that all our policies advance the equality, dignity and participation of disabled people. Last week, in Scotland, Rachel Reeves announced a set of early commitments for a Labour government that demonstrate our seriousness about that.

Our first priority will be to secure disabled people’s right to fair and decent employment, in two important ways:

We will reform the discredited work capability assessment to ensure it’s fit for purpose. Under our plans, everyone who’s assessed will receive a personal statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their ability to work, as a gateway to defining and assembling the package of support they’d need if they are able to do so.

We’ll also introduce penalties on assessors for wrong assessments, and we will continue with the independent review process, with a formal role for disabled people to advise and inform the way the assessment works.

The work programme has been a disaster for disabled people, getting only around one in 20 into sustained work. It’s clear that a top down, centrally driven programme can’t deliver the right support for disabled people.

So we will push commissioning of employment programmes down to local level, enabling commissioners who know and understand the local labour market and the support and advice that’s available in the community to design and procure the services that will work for disabled people and ensure they share in our economic success.

One of the most pernicious examples of the government’s failure to secure the rights of disabled people is that they are twice as likely to live in poverty as non disabled people, and this year we have seen an extra 400,000 disabled families facing absolute poverty.

Earlier this year, the independent taskforce on poverty and disability, chaired by Sir Bert Massie, recommended a number of measures to break this disgraceful link. Key among them was scrapping the hated bedroom tax, which has pushed more disabled people and their carers into poverty, and undermined their right to live independently.

It will be Labour’s priority in government to abolish this unworkable and vicious tax.

We will also sort out the chaos that characterises the personal independence payment, working with disabled people to ensure PIP protects them from the risk of poverty, as well as exploring the ideas in the Massie report to address the higher living costs that disabled people face.

These early measures are important in and of themselves to improve the position of disabled people and address the disadvantage they experience.

But they are also emblematic of our overarching commitment to making rights a reality for disabled people, as our international obligations require. Engaging disabled people directly in the design and review of the policies that affect them, and devolving decision-making to local level, will ensure disabled people take a central role in the management of their own lives.

They sit on all fours with the principles of reducing poverty, securing the right to work for those who are able to do so, and protecting the right of disabled people to live independently where and with whom they choose.

They go to the heart of our determination to achieve greater equality, to respect the human rights of disabled people, and to create a One Nation Britain in which every disabled person can realise their potential and live their life to the full.

Kate Green MP​ is shadow minister for disabled people

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11 Responses to “This government has been a disaster for disabled people”

  1. treborc1

    So come on then what do you see for us all working paying tax or in concentration camps, it would be very interesting to listen to your chats.

    The issue is a simple one, are disabled people humans if so why was it that since Cameron has been in power my benefits have risen faster then at any time since New labour.

    The first rise your party gave us was 70p, and the pensioners for god sake then you had to offer people gifts to try and keep us.

    Then after that you held the rises for the disabled down 90p £1.20 was one of the biggest rises.

    The issue for labour is work, if you do not work well your not part of this country, you even sent so called heros of the wars you lot started to ATOS, you makes me sick the lot of you.

    I’ve voted labour all my life sadly that’s now ended, your the issue not the cure.

    Your new motto should be.

    Hard work will set you free….. or as it was said by the other socialist lot. ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’

    And what does that weak kneed leader keep saying , We are the party of the hard working.

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, they followed the rules at a time of low inflation. Evil, evil! Hmm.

  3. hindleA

    Well,the consensus of opinion from journalists appears to be that the Tories have won the argument over welfare;of course it is far more complicated and nuanced than that.I have far greater faith in the decency of people.Given the correct information,rather than the distortions of those very same journalists working to a preordained narrative which takes no account for subtleties context or contraindications,they tend to disagree with the present Government reforms ,as they actually are,rather than as they are pitched.No reasonable person would agree with the penalisation of vast cost saving necessary rooms for care/medical purposes and the denigration of those who need them.
    Yesterday,through incompetence,confusion and disregard who actually was responsible for disabled people appeared to be working on a rotation system.A.repeat of the last reshuffle when the position was vacant and added as an afterthought.That to me reveals their utter contempt at best,disregard at worse.

  4. Jan Podsiadly

    Consider QEF Vocational Services, achieving value for money by getting around 8 in 20 hardest to help disabled people into sustainable employment against the work programme’s 1 in 20. QEF should be encouraged and supported.

  5. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    The government makes the rules, Labour didn’t do anything about them last time and that’s why I have no time for Kate Green. Prior to the Coalition, New Labour was harsher on benefit claimants than any government since the 1930s and ‘the means test’ meant an inspector coming into your home to count how many towels you had. A scrounger back then was someone with more towels or other such ‘luxuries’ than they needed.

    Until Labour faces up to their actual 1997-2010 record on social security and not keep passively accepting the one invented by journalists and political opponents(which benefited Labour’s policies because the public never knew how harsh they really were), I can’t trust anything they say.

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