The rights of disabled people in the UK


The United Nations Association’s aim is to advocate for strong government support of the UN and to  demonstrate why the UN matters to people everywhere.  Overseas issues are obviously of great concern but we must not forget issues at home.  How can we have any hope of convincing decision makers of our strong beliefs in the values of the UN if we ignore their actions at home which go against those same values?  Surely the grave and systematic abuse of the human rights of disabled people in the UK is something we cannot ignore?

The UN has recently issued a damning criticism of the UK Government’s failure to uphold the rights of disabled people. Although a government spokesperson has clearly criticised this report it is unlikely that you would find many disabled people in the UK who would agree with this criticism.

A quick look at the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website is enough to see the extent and severity of harm to disabled people that is happening simply because of governmental policy in the UK.

Our government is signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities .  Action by the UNA is clearly needed to push for our government to recognise their commitment to this convention.

There may be many who would attempt to justify on economic grounds, the austerity measures that have played a part in damaging disabled people’s rights in this country. But even if we were solely concerned with economics these policies look unjustifiable.

The Spare Room Subsidy, or bedroom tax is hitting many families, two-thirds of which have a disabled adult living in the home. But it has failed to either save much money for the Treasury or solve the problem of over-crowding in housing.

The film I, Daniel Blake from Ken Loach provides an excellent moral argument against the Work Capability Assessments.  But a quick look at the figures for how much money is spent on these assessments and subsequent tribunals presents the another argument that perhaps they are not worth the pain they cause?

At the UN there is a fundamental belief that governments must strive to uphold UN values for a strong and stable world.

To damage the rights of disabled people purely for economic reasons goes against this belief. Even if we could prove that there was an economic case for such policies.

We need to look closely at exactly how disabled people’s lives are changing in our society.  Many disabled people have a lot to offer.  They are poorly represented in our parliament, and in other positions of power.  Perhaps they are just an easy target as they lack the positions they need to fight back.

I hope somehow this piece may inspire some branches of the UNA to fight for the rights of the disabled.

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