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IL Government Response

IL Government Response

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Published by Steven Preece
Government Response to Human Rights Committee on Independent Living and Welfare Reform
Government Response to Human Rights Committee on Independent Living and Welfare Reform

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Published by: Steven Preece on May 28, 2012
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08/21/2013

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REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE 23rd REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTSSESSION 2010-12: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RIGHT OF DISABLED PEOPLE TO INDEPENDENT LIVING
REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE TWENTY-THIRD REPORT OFTHE JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS SESSION 2010-12:IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RIGHT OF DISABLED PEOPLE TOINDEPENDENT LIVINGIntroduction
This memorandum sets out the Government’s response to the conclusionsand recommendations in the Joint Select Committee’s report,
Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to the Independent Living 
.The Government welcomes the report as an important and timely contributionto discussion about implementation of the United Nations Convention on theRights of Disabled People (the Convention’) and the development of a newDisability Strategy.It also welcomes the Committee’s acknowledgement that this Government iscommitted to removing barriers and creating opportunities for disabled people,and that the UK is a world-leader on disability rights and in relation toindependent living in particular.Disabled people make a huge contribution to society – through work,volunteering, caring and as active members of communities. However, thereremain significant physical and attitudinal barriers that prevent disabledpeople from reaching their full potential and playing their role in society.The Government
 
is committed to tackling these barriers and to enablingdisabled people to have opportunities to play a full role in society. TheGovernment has been working with disabled people to develop a newDisability Strategy that will build on the UK’s long standing commitment toindependent living and equality for disabled people.The Government wants to realise the aim of independent living, where “alldisabled people have the same choice, control and freedom as any othercitizen – at home, at work, and as members of the community. This does notnecessarily mean disabled people ‘doing everything for themselves’, but itdoes mean that any practical assistance people need should be based ontheir own choices and aspirations”.
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 To take this forward, the Government is working to frame a new DisabilityStrategy. The aim of the Strategy is to give renewed impetus to ourcommitment to enabling disabled people to fulfil their potential and haveopportunities to play a full role in society. It will focus the need for continuedaction across government and externally. It will be based around threethemes:
Realising Aspirations:
disabled people must have the opportunities andsupport they need to realise their potential and their aspirations for education,work and independent living, particularly during key life transitions.
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Definition developed by disabled people. Disability Rights Commission, 2002, Policy Statement onSocial Care and Independent Living.
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REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE 23rd REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTSSESSION 2010-12: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RIGHT OF DISABLED PEOPLE TO INDEPENDENT LIVING
Individual control
: disabled people must have the opportunity to make theirown choices to live independently, with choice and control in their daily lives.
Changing attitudes and behaviours
: discrimination and harassment areunacceptable. We must grow strong and positive attitudes and behaviourstowards disabled people to enable their full participation in work, family andcommunity lifeThe Government is committed to working with disabled people and theirorganisations on the development of the Disability Strategy. In December2011, the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) at the Department for Work andPensions published a discussion document -
Fulfilling Potential 
– as the basisfor discussions and has worked with disabled people to explore how theStrategy can be developed and what actions will be both realistic and canhave the greatest impact.The discussion period ended on 9 March. Huge interest was shown in thedocument. The ODI received 548 written responses from organisations andindividuals. In addition, the Government provided funding for around 100events held by disabled people’s organisations around the country to enabledisabled people to discuss their ideas around
Fulfilling Potential 
. Overall morethan 5,000 disabled people have taken the opportunity to help shape the newstrategy.In the light of all the responses received, work is in progress on the Strategy,which the Government will publish later this year. The Committee’s reportmakes a number of recommendations about the approach that the Strategyshould take, and these are being considered as part of that work.The context in which we are developing the Disability Strategy is achallenging one and must recognise the reality of the current fiscalenvironment. Nonetheless, the Government is committed to tackling thebarriers that may prevent disabled people from participation in society asequal partners. The Strategy will reflect the Government’s fundamental reformprogramme that will create a new welfare system for the 21
st
century. This willtransform the opportunity for people without jobs to find work and supportthemselves and their families, and will ensure that the most vulnerable insociety are protected. Disabled people are at the heart of this ambition, whichrecognises that support for disabled people must not mean a life of welfaredependency, but must enable everyone to take an equal role in society. TheStrategy will also reflect the move away from traditional top-down directionfrom central government towards a flexible approach and a greater emphasison localism, which enables decisions to be responsive to the real needs oflocal communities, including disabled people.As the Committee’s report acknowledges, the devolved administrations havetheir own strategic approaches to the achievement of independent living fordisabled people, and to implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights ofDisabled People. The Disability Strategy will therefore primarily be forEngland, but with some policies applicable to the UK as a whole.2
 
REPLY BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE 23rd REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTSSESSION 2010-12: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RIGHT OF DISABLED PEOPLE TO INDEPENDENT LIVING
The legal status of the relevant standards in the Disabilities Convention1. We are concerned that characterising the obligations assumed by theGovernment under the Disabilities Convention as “soft law” is indicativeof an approach to the treaty which regards the rights it protects as beingof less normative force than those contained in other human rightsinstruments. The UNCRPD is hard law, not soft law. The Governmentshould fulfil their obligations under the Convention on that basis,and must counter the public perception that it is soft law.
The Government recognises that the Convention is a legally bindinginstrument, and has made it clear that it is committed to its implementation.The evidence given to the Committee was intended to make the distinctionthat international treaties are generally not incorporated into UK domestic law.The Convention imposes legal obligations on the UK Government. The UKfulfils these obligations through existing domestic legislation, such as theEquality Act 2010, and through policy and programmes that impact upon thelives of disabled people. In this way, the rights contained in the Conventionhave practical effect.
Progress so far2. We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to removingbarriers and creating opportunities for disabled people, and considerthis to be entirely consistent with their obligations under Article 19UNCRPD. The UK has an established position as a world-leader ondisability rights and in relation to independent living in particular.We strongly encourage the Government to make every effort to maintainand build upon this status.
The Government welcomes the Committee’s recognition of its commitment toremoving the barriers that disabled people face, and of the position that theUK has established as a world-leader on disability rights. The Governmentaims to build on the strong foundations that exist with a new DisabilityStrategy, co-produced by disabled people, and a programme of reform acrosswelfare, education, employment support and social care to make the statesystem work better for disabled people.
The current situation3. We note the significant disadvantage to disabled people whichpersists in relation to choice and control and levels of participation ineconomic and social life and the impact this has on their economic andsocial well-being, and on what many of our witnesses considered to betheir enjoyment of basic human rights. We therefore welcome theGovernment’s recognition that more progress is required to promotedisabled people’s right to independent living.
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