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Our Response to Alleged Govt' Plans to Sanction Disabled Benefit Claimants (final)

Our Response to Alleged Govt' Plans to Sanction Disabled Benefit Claimants (final)

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Published by Steven Preece

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Published by: Steven Preece on Sep 06, 2012
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07/10/2013

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Mr David Cameron,Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern IrelandHouse of CommonsLondonSW1A 0AA Thursday 6
th
September 2012Dear Mr Cameron,I am writing to you on behalf of The Social Welfare Union in accordance withArticle 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Person withDisabilities which states “disabled people and their organisations should beinvolved in monitoring of the convention, in particular through shadowwriting reports. These are reports that organisations can send to the UnitedNations Disability Committee to say what progress the government havemade or not on implementing the convention. To inform you that we intend to send this document to the appropriateopposition ministers, the European Court of Human Rights, The EqualityCommission, and the United Nations Commissioner for Disabled persons, asour full and accurate assessment of the current government’s policy in thearea of benefit sanctions for disabled claimants.We are invoking this right in light of the information that you are intendingto impose sanctions of up to £71 per week on disabled persons who notadhere to Work Related Activities such as failure to
‘Attend and take part inwork-focused interviews, without a good reason;
or a failure to
'Carry out work-related activities that your adviser asks you to do, without a goodreason.'
We believe these alleged sanction are in breach of the convention onseveral issues which are laid out below with the relevant article number andthe reason for our dispute.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons withDisabilities:-Article 19
of this convention which covers independent living andcommunity interaction states at section
 
b) Persons with disabilities haveaccess to a range of in-home, residential and other community support 
 
services, including personal assistance necessary to support living andinclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation fromthe community;
We believe that these sanctions will severely limit a person’s ability to liveindependently and to engage with their local community. As you are wellaware travelling with a disability is expensive for many if not most disabledpeople. Something as simple as a 5 minute trip to a local retail outlet canincur high costs for the disabled person. By imposing this sanction you willbe removing a significant portion of the money that the Department forWork and Pensions themselves have said are indisputable in providingdisabled persons with independence which will I turn increase their isolationand push the expense of dealing with the negative physical and mentalhealth issues onto the already over stretched and under resourced NationalHealth Service.
Article 20
Personal mobility states -
Parties shall take effective measuresto ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for  persons with disabilities, including by: a) Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice,and at affordable cost; b) Facilitating access by persons with disabilities toquality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of liveassistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost; c) Providing training in mobility skills to persons withdisabilities and to specialist staff working with persons with disabilities; d)Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistivetechnologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons withdisabilities.
 The imposition of these sanctions will make it harder if not impossible fordisabled persons to purchase or maintain any of the equipment or services(such as the payment of transport or support staff) necessary to them forthe function of personal mobility
Article 27
of the Act states –
Disabled people have the right to earn aliving through work that they freely choose and in workplaces that areaccessible and inclusive. Governments should promote this right to work by:
ensuring disabled people are protected against discrimination inemployment and are entitled to reasonable adjustments
ensuring disabled people can access work experience
ensuring disabled people enjoy fair working conditions, the same unionrights as others and protection against harassment 
employing disabled people in the public sector 
 promoting career development for disabled people including through
 
access to training opportunities
 promoting self-employment and employment in the private sector 
supporting disabled people to stay in or get back to work.
Disabled people should be protected against forced or compulsory labour.
We contend that the government is failing on most aspects of thisarticle ;
o
Firstly by imposing sanctions that will seriously affect the quality of life and ability to live independently you are forcing the disabledperson into compulsory labour as they have no choice but tocomply or face punishment, this does not constitute supportingthem into finding an appropriate placement for their needs.
o
Secondly the government are doing nothing to address the factthat many workplaces are not set up for the ability to employ aperson with disabilities safely. They are fraught with danger for thedisabled person themselves or their support dogs by not havingappropriate access to offices, toilets, fire escapes, etc they areunable to meet the needs of people who are blind or deaf safely. There are grants available but no minimum quotas for companiesnor sanctions for companies that refuse to employ a qualifieddisabled person (trying to prove your disability as a reason for notbeing offered employment is virtually impossible claim manydisabled people).
o
 Thirdly, most employers are less likely to even consider employinga person who is disabled over an able-bodied person and hencethe disparity between the numbers of disabled people wanting towork and those who successfully gain employment(
).
o
Article 28
- Adequate standard of living and social protection states
-Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequatestandard of living for themselves and their families, includingadequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuousimprovement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps tosafeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.

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