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Benefit changes ‘harmful’ to disabled people
Thursday 01 March 2012
New report says cuts to benefits and services could leave disabled people unable to live independently
The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today (Thursday 1 March) published its report on the implementation of the right of disabled people to independent living.
The JCHR is made up of 12 members, from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It is charged with considering human rights issues in the UK.
Written in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ‘Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living’ raises a number of significant human rights issues. They include the need for freestanding legislation to protect the right to independent living in UK law and the effect of current reforms to benefits and services on the ability of disabled people to enjoy independent living.
The right to independent living is not set out in UK law. In the report, the committee argues that the government should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to cover this.
The committee also found that reforms to benefits and services risk leaving disabled people without the support they need to live independently. The report says that ‘the range of reforms proposed to housing benefit, Disability Living Allowance, the Independent Living Fund, and changes to eligibility criteria risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people’.
“The report highlights the concerns of many disabled people and disability organisations,” said Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive. “Reform of the Disability Living Allowance and cuts to social care budgets risk undermining the already limited opportunity for people with a learning disability to live independent lives.
“It is essential that despite the financial constraints it faces, the government does not act against its stated commitment to protect and enhance the right to independent living for disabled people. We urge the government to act with urgency to reform our failing and underfunded social care system, and to closely monitor the effects of its changes to disability benefits.”