Disabled people’s rights to independent living eroded, equality bodies warn UN

Published: 23 Aug 2017

As health and social care budgets are slashed disabled people’s right to independent living is being continually eroded, the UK’s equality and human rights bodies have said.

The warning comes ahead of a UN examination of the UK’s track record on disabled people’s rights today.

After years of cuts to authorities who fund care across the UK, many disabled people who need support to live independently in the community are not getting help, or are only getting the bare minimum.

The latest analysis shows that disabled people are losing support to enable them to take part in community life, go out to work and see friends and family.

This is just one of a number of threats to disabled people’s rights highlighted in a report from the UK’s national human rights and equality commissions. 

Other areas for concern include:

  • the overall impact of seven years of cuts to social security payments
  • gaps in legal protection and barriers to accessing justice
  • the continued use of physical and chemical restraint
  • bullying of disabled children in schools
  • the need for further action to tackle disability hate crime and harassment
  • the levels of legal protection for disabled people in Northern Ireland, which is lower than in the rest of the UK

Today the UK will be examined by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva. The same committee last year judged that changes to social security had led to ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights.

Speaking on behalf of the independent monitoring mechanism set up to monitor disabled people’s rights in the UK, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission David Isaac said:

“There is a real concern that disabled people are being increasingly marginalised and shut out of society as they bear the brunt of the accumulated impact of cuts in public spending.

“Disabled people have won hard fought battles in recent decades to ensure that they can live independently to exercise choice and control over their support. Evidence of regression must be confronted and urgently addressed.

“As the UK and devolved governments’ track record on disability rights comes under the international microscope, we call for concerted action to remove the barriers in society that prevent disabled people living full lives on equal terms with non-disabled people. Everyone is entitled to the same opportunities and respect – the governments must start taking the human rights of disabled people more seriously.”

Notes to editors

The report has been produced by the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism (UKIM). In 2009 the UK Government designated the following organisations as the UKIM under Article 33 of the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD):

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI)
  • Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC)
  • Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

They are tasked with promoting, protecting and monitoring implementation of the CRPD.

Find out more about the CRPD

Read the report: Disability rights in the UK: updated submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Press contact details

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0161 829 8102