Thursday 26 April 2012

Disabled Travel and the Equality & Human Rights Commission

‎"The situation is [a] cause of embarrassment for the UK government, given it is unfolding just months away from the Paralympics 2012."

What situation, you may wonder? Well, the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has decided not to support disabled folk who experience discrimination when flying in/out of the UK. The EHRC is the super-overseer, that was created from various agencies including the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), and is supposed to look out for the needs of minorities who may be/are discriminated against.

"We have a statutory remit to promote and monitor human rights; and to protect, enforce and promote equality across the nine "protected" grounds - age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment." EHRC

At the time the DRC (Disability Rights Commission & DRC archive) was merged into the EHRC, it was suspected that disability rights would drop down the agenda in the mega-agency; that is, be subsumed and ignored. Now we can see this occurring.

In actuality, matters are far worse than they at first might seem. There has been no news coverage of a debate in Westminster Hall two days ago on the future of the EHRC. Sandra Osborne MP (Lab) stated:

"Staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission are experts in their field and are deeply concerned about the attack on equalities represented by the proposed 62% budget cut and 72% staffing cut by 2015 from the original levels in 2007. They and their trade unions—the Public and Commercial Services Union and Unite—believe that those cuts amount to the closure of the EHRC as we know it and its transformation into little more than a think-tank." Hansard

It looks like there may be little or no recourse for the majority of those who are discriminated against, unless they are extremely poor (limited legal aid) or very wealthy (deep pockets).

Of course, the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO), which drastically restricts legal aid, in conjunction with the Welfare Reform Act (WRA), which drastically reduces support for hundreds of thousands of disabled folk, along with the local councils reduction in care support, will mean that in practice more and more disabled folk will be confined to their homes (if not hospitals or institutions), so the ability to travel will become moot.

The Olympics & Paralymics should have passed before the global community discovers what is happening here. So everything will be just hunky-dory for the Government; not so jolly for we disabled folk.


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