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International day of disabled people

03 December 2014

GREETINGS TO DISABLED PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD on the international day of disabled people

Disability Rights UK sends greetings to disabled people and our allies right across the world - and shares with you a few UK highlights and lowlights from 2014:

Highlights

1. Disabled people ARE the spokespeople

Both Channel 4 and BBC TV News chose to interview someone with a learning difficulty as the spokesperson on a major story - rather than the usual non-disabled charity 'expert'. Gary Bourlet spoke brilliantly on the scandal of so many people still being in institutions. No more being relegated to 'case studies' - we are the spokespeople. Nothing about us without us! 

2. Inspired to be leaders

DR UK launched our new Leadership Academy to support disabled people to develop our careers. The programme, supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, has generated huge interest and demand, and already been accredited by the Institute for Leadership Management. Here's to all current and future disabled leaders

3. Choice and control - and freedom to move

The new Care Act - thanks to strenuous lobbying - is underpinned by the principle of choice and control over how our support needs are met. The Care Act also says that having a care package should no longer prevent you from moving to a new area (for fear of losing support).

4. Some more ways in to work for young disabled people

The number of disabled apprentices and trainees is beginning to go up, thanks to disabled people, employers and colleges working together; and more integrated support for young people, under the Children and Families Act. 

Lowlights

1. Re-institutionalisation and co-ercion

More disabled people are going into institutions than coming out, despite government promises; and the number of people being forcibly treated or detained against their will has gone up year on year. These are major human rights abuses 

2. Poverty and fear

There are hundreds of thousands waiting for assessments for PIP (personal independence payment) and/or the work capability assessment; tens of thousands being sanctioned for not complying with the (failing) work programme; and a growing number of disabled people in debt, with rising housing costs and bills. More and more are fearful they will be unable to feed themselves and their families.

3. Draconian cutbacks in social care  

People who need support with personal care face increasingly stringent eligibility tests and also cuts in the amount of their care package if they retain it. For many this means increased isolation and less opportunity to participate in family and community life - another human rights breach.

4. Failing disability employment programmes

The programmes that are popular and effective - Access to Work, Disabled Students' Allowance - are subject to new cost controls and bureaucratic processes set to significantly limit their impact. The much larger Work Programme has a failure rate of over 90% for disabled people on ESA (employment and support allowance); and there is no convincing forward disability employment strategy.

So what next? In 2015 we will be campaigning for our human rights including full participation in all aspects of society.