Mr David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland House of Commons London SW1A 0AA Thursday

6th September 2012 Dear Mr Cameron, I am writing to you on behalf of The Social Welfare Union in accordance with Article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Person with Disabilities which states “disabled people and their organisations should be involved in monitoring of the convention, in particular through shadow writing reports. These are reports that organisations can send to the United Nations Disability Committee to say what progress the government have made or not on implementing the convention. To inform you that we intend to send this document to the appropriate opposition ministers, the European Court of Human Rights, The Equality Commission, and the United Nations Commissioner for Disabled persons, as our full and accurate assessment of the current government’s policy in the area of benefit sanctions for disabled claimants. We are invoking this right in light of the information that you are intending to impose sanctions of up to £71 per week on disabled persons who not adhere to Work Related Activities such as failure to ‘Attend and take part in work-focused interviews, without a good reason; or a failure to 'Carry out work-related activities that your adviser asks you to do, without a good reason.'

We believe these alleged sanction are in breach of the convention on several issues which are laid out below with the relevant article number and the reason for our dispute. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:Article 19 of this convention which covers independent living and community interaction states at section b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support

services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community; We believe that these sanctions will severely limit a person’s ability to live independently and to engage with their local community. As you are well aware travelling with a disability is expensive for many if not most disabled people. Something as simple as a 5 minute trip to a local retail outlet can incur high costs for the disabled person. By imposing this sanction you will be removing a significant portion of the money that the Department for Work and Pensions themselves have said are indisputable in providing disabled persons with independence which will I turn increase their isolation and push the expense of dealing with the negative physical and mental health issues onto the already over stretched and under resourced National Health Service. Article 20 Personal mobility states - Parties shall take effective measures to 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 to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost; c) Providing training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist staff working with persons with disabilities; d) Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities. The imposition of these sanctions will make it harder if not impossible for disabled persons to purchase or maintain any of the equipment or services (such as the payment of transport or support staff) necessary to them for the function of personal mobility Article 27 of the Act states – Disabled people have the right to earn a living through work that they freely choose and in workplaces that are accessible and inclusive. Governments should promote this right to work by:
• • • • •

ensuring disabled people are protected against discrimination in employment and are entitled to reasonable adjustments ensuring disabled people can access work experience ensuring disabled people enjoy fair working conditions, the same union rights 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 this article ;

Firstly by imposing sanctions that will seriously affect the quality of life and ability to live independently you are forcing the disabled person into compulsory labour as they have no choice but to comply or face punishment, this does not constitute supporting them into finding an appropriate placement for their needs. Secondly the government are doing nothing to address the fact that many workplaces are not set up for the ability to employ a person with disabilities safely. They are fraught with danger for the disabled person themselves or their support dogs by not having appropriate access to offices, toilets, fire escapes, etc they are unable to meet the needs of people who are blind or deaf safely. There are grants available but no minimum quotas for companies nor sanctions for companies that refuse to employ a qualified disabled person (trying to prove your disability as a reason for not being offered employment is virtually impossible claim many disabled people). Thirdly, most employers are less likely to even consider employing a person who is disabled over an able-bodied person and hence the disparity between the numbers of disabled people wanting to work and those who successfully gain employment (




Article 28 - Adequate standard of living and social protection states Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.

We believe that this sanction will place a strain on the personal finances of the disabled person so much so that they will have to make decisions about which is the most important, food or rent, heating or electricity, following the medical diet that they are prescribed or choosing to forego all these to be able to pay all their bills, putting the health and well-being of that disabled person in severe jeopardy. Sanctions which force a disabled person into such choices are clearly in breach of the aforementioned article in our opinion. We would also like to remind you of the recent ruling from the Joint Committee on Human Rights which was sent in writing to Ian Duncan Smith MP advising him that the consultation period for the Welfare Reform Process contravened several areas of the Human Rights Act and was therefore an illegal process; meaning any decision taken, or acts of parliament drawn out of its conclusions could also be illegal by contravening the scope of the Human Rights Act. We are also of the opinion that this Government has still failed to carry out a full and rigorous impact assessment in line with the Human Rights Act, European Union and United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Disabled Persons to live free and independent lives; free from abuse, suffering, slavery, lack of medical treatment or in fear for their lives due to the inability to manage personal finances as a direct result of sanctions which would plunge the disabled person into severe poverty. We are of the strong opinion that if these proposed sanctions are implemented then disabled people will feel all of the above and may decide that their only option is to take their own life which many believe is already happening in the face of existing reforms to welfare benefits and services (see appendix for examples). We look forward with interest to your thoughts on our issues; All the best Jean Eveleigh Independent Disability Advisor Social Welfare Union

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Death from condition after being found fit for work

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