Disability Rights UK News Round-Up

This is the latest newsletter from the excellent Disability Rights Uk website

Budget 2021: “Outrageous” that over 1.9 million disabled people on legacy benefits refused £20 week financial lifeline

In last week’s Budget 2021, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that:

“To support low-income households, the universal credit uplift of £20 a week will continue for a further six months, well beyond the end of this national lockdown [and] we’ll provide working tax credit claimants with equivalent support for the next six months.”

Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Helen Barnard said that this change made “no sense”:

“It is unacceptable that the Chancellor has decided to cut the incomes of millions of families by £1040-a-year in six months’ time. He said this Budget would “meet the moment” but this decision creates a perfect storm for the end of this year, with the main rate of unemployment support cut to its lowest level in real terms since 1990 just as furlough ends and job losses are expected to peak. This makes no sense and will pull hundreds of thousands more people into poverty as we head into winter.”

She added:

“It is not too late for the Chancellor to do the right thing: announce an extension of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit for at least the next year. It is also totally indefensible that people who are sick, disabled or carers claiming legacy benefits continue to be excluded from this vital support. The Government must urgently right this injustice.”

For further reaction and more information visit the DR UK website.

House of Lords vote to criminalise domestic abuse by carers  

Following an amazing debate initiated by Baroness Jane Campbell, the House of Lords voted in favour of bringing domestic abuse by carers into the Scope of the Domestic Abuse Bill. The vote was 318 in favour and 234 against. Unfortunately, the Government continues to oppose amending the Bill.

Baroness Jane Campbell put forward a strong case for carers to be covered by the Domestic Abus Bill, given their close personal connection with individual disabled people and their position of power. Baroness Campbell made a compelling case for the right of disabled people to be protected from abuse in our own homes, in the same way as others. Baroness Campbell shared legal advice, which showed that excluding carers from the Bill would be discriminatory.

Lord Shinkwin urged the House of Lords to remember that anyone could experience disability and that everyone would benefit from this protection being available.

The government refused to change its position saying that abuse against disabled people was covered by other legislation, missing the point that we need equality of treatment under every piece of legislation.

There was overwhelming support for the amendments with the vote being 318 in favour and 234 against.

For more information and to read the transcript of the vote visit the DR UK website.

Atos pays £2,500 compensation for negligent PIP assessment only after visit from bailiffs

A court has forced Atos, the private company contracted to carry out PIP assessments by the DWP, to pay £2,500 compensation to a disabled woman, after a negligent assessment left her in debt and experiencing significant mental distress.

Atos delivers its PIP assessment contracts through Independent Assessment Services, a trading name of Atos IT Services UK.

The contractor, which failed to defend the case, originally ignored the order to pay the compensation awarded by the county court but was eventually forced to pay up after being visited by debt enforcement officers.

For the full story visit the DR UK website.

Shocking Food Foundation figures on Disabled People experiencing food insecurity

A report by the Food Foundation shows that the most seriously disabled people are experiencing 5 times the level of food insecurity as the wider population.

The report states that 25% of disabled people, who are limited a lot by their impairments, experience food insecurity, and 11% of disabled people who are limited a little. This contrasts with 5% of the non disabled population experiencing food insecurity.

These figures confirm that millions of disabled people are living in extreme poverty. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation  says that 7 million of the 14 million people in poverty, are either a disabled person or have a disabled person in their household. The Trussell Trust says that 75% of food bank users are disabled people or have a disabled person in the household.

Fazilet Hadi, DR UK Head of Policy said “ Experiencing food insecurity is a symptom of poverty, benefit levels are far too low and are not enabling disabled people to live safely or with dignity. Despite this, the Chancellor failed to extend the £20 uplift per week to those on legacy benefits.

There needs to be a fundamental review of the level of benefits, accepting that many disabled people will rely on the safety net for longer, due to ill health or impairment and or discrimination in securing employment.”

For more information and to read the report in full visit the DR UK website.

Barriers removed for Deaf Jurors

The government has announced that the law will be changed to allow BSL interpreters into the jury deliberation room. Up until now, BSL has been permitted in court but not in the jury room. This has  meant that in order to participate in jury service, Deaf People have had to lip read in the jury room.

The proposed change in the law will clear the way for the full participation of over 80,000 Deaf People in jury service.

Read a statement from the Lord Chancellor.

Read a statement from the Ministry of Justice.

Errol Graham: Family of man who starved to death after benefits cut off lose High Court challenge against the DWP

The family of Errol Graham, who starved to death in his flat in 2018 after his benefit payments were stopped, have lost their legal challenge against the DWP.

A High Court judge ruled last Thursday that DWP officials did not break the law when they cut off Mr. Graham’s payments and also dismissed claims against the government’s safeguarding policy for ending his benefits.

For more information and analysis visit the DR UK website.

Victory towards fire evacuation plans for Disabled People

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommended that disabled people have Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans that can be implemented in the event of fire. The fire saw the death of 72 people some of whom were disabled people not able to safely evacuate the building.

Last year, the Government was set to ignore this recommendation, however following a judicial review taken by the family of a disabled person, who died in the fire, the Government agreed to bring forward proposals on Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans. These proposals will be consulted on later this year.

For more information visit the DR UK website.