Published: 24 Mar 2016
Commenting in response to a new report from the House of Lords on the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people, Lord Holmes, EHRC Disability Commissioner said:
'We strongly agree that the Government must take more comprehensive action to improve the lives of disabled people so that they can participate fully in society. It is unacceptable that legislation to remove barriers including poor access to taxis and housing has been on the statute book for 20 years but have not yet been brought into force. We welcome the report's recognition that the Commission has taken important enforcement action to protect the rights of disabled people. Our new strategic plan will put a strengthened focus on issues like access to justice, housing and transport and we will continue to press Government to deliver further change. We also welcome the recommendation for the Commission to take back responsibility for a helpline and believe we are well-placed to run this service effectively.'
Notes to editors
On the Equality Act
'We believe the 2010 Equality Act strengthened the law and gave disabled people greater protection from unfair discrimination However, it is vital the Government now brings all these provisions into force.'
On a separate Commission for disabled people
'In the real world, it is difficult to put people into neat boxes or define the challenges they face through a single protected characteristic. The Commission is able to bring more concerted and coordinated action across different protected characteristics and better understanding of the links with human rights.'
On action the Commission has taken in the last year
'Last week, we published our progress review on preventing deaths in detention of adults with mental health conditions. It found that many continue to face segregation and a lack access to mental health services, while the numbers of non-natural deaths in detention continues to rise year-on-year. We made a number of recommendations to address the problem.
'Earlier this year, we successfully proved that the Department for Work and Pensions unjustifiably indirectly discriminated against unpaid carers of disabled family members by failing to exempt them from the Benefits Cap. In addition to this we are currently involved in the Supreme Court appeal about the removal of the spare room subsidy for disabled people.
'We agree that disabled people can face particular barriers to accessing justice. The Commission recently examined the changes to legal aid and tribunal fees. Our analysis found that there is an impact on access to justice in welfare benefits, housing and discrimination cases.
'We also agree that there is a wide range of physical barriers including inaccessible sports stadia, taxis and public transport. In each of these cases we have used our enforcement powers to test the law and push for change by challenging powerful commercial enterprises and public authorities.'
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- The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It operates independently to encourage equality and diversity, eliminate unlawful discrimination, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and is accredited by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution.