[Image Description: EHRC logo and tag-line, "Creating a fairer Britain"]
At the beginning of December the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published Monitoring the Implementation of the UNCRPD, its review of issues arising from the implementation or lack thereof of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which the United Kingdom signed up to on 30th March 2007 and ratified on 8th June 2009.
[Image description: map indicating countries that have: ratified UNCRPD, dark green; those that have signed, light green; those that have not signed, grey. Via Wikipedia, © Louperivois]
If the reader has not heard of this report, I am not surprised. I could not find any reference to it in the news section of google. As many will know, I am a bedtivist and as such reasonably aware of the UK situation. However, had it not been for Ian Jones, one of the prime movers in the conception of the WoWPetition, and now involved in the WoWCampaign, I should have known nought about it. It appears to have been completely ignored by British mainstream media (MSM). I suspect this is hardly surprising given how negative the report is, including criticism of the MSM itself.
However, I ought to add, that I also was totally unaware of the EHRC's request for information from folk with disabilities. Perhaps others did hear about it and managed to give some input and feed-back.
Throughout the report, the EHRC includes questions that the UN's oversight committee needs to put to the UK government. Rather handily they are collected together in an annex (pp.39-44) to the document. I list them below (© EHRC).
List of questions UKIM recommends that the CRPD Committee ask the UK:
1. To explain how the UK and devolved governments take into account the UNCRPD in the development and implementation of all new and existing policies, programmes, and legislation and how this action is co-ordinated at national and UK-wide level.
2. Do the UK and devolved governments intend to implement the JCHR’s recommendation and, if so, when?
3. To describe the measures in place to ensure that public authorities, including councils, are aware of and act in conformity with the Convention and the outcomes of those measures.
4. To detail, with examples, how the UK and devolved governments ensure the active involvement of disabled people and children in the development and implementation of legislation and policies and the effect of this involvement.
5. What measures the Northern Ireland Executive has taken to ensure that the legislative protections for disabled people in Britain are available in Northern Ireland.
6. What steps has the UK taken to monitor and remedy the different treatment of disabled children seeking redress against discrimination or harassment in schools with regard to access to compensation and injunctive relief?
7. To outline the availability of specialist services that are accessible to disabled women who experience sexual or domestic abuse. Where these services are provided locally, how do the national governments meet their responsibilities by collating information on service availability and adequacy?
8. To evidence how local and national domestic violence strategies, policies and programmes identify the needs of disabled women and ensure disabled women are able to use domestic abuse services.
9. To detail the methods by which the views of disabled children and young people are respected fully and taken into account in the development of UK and devolved government strategies, policies and programmes on disability and children and to evidence the effect this has had.
10. To explain the initiatives that have been taken to reduce the number of disabled children living in poverty and the effect these initiatives have had.
11. To evidence how the particular needs of looked after disabled children are being addressed, the measures that have been taken to ensure they receive the support and care needed and the outcomes achieved by those measures.
12. To detail the steps taken and outcomes achieved to initiate and encourage public portrayals of disabled people, including through government communications that are consistent with the purpose of the Convention.
13. To provide current data on the extent to which accessible housing is available across the UK and information on how the UK will ensure that new and existing housing is accessible and can be easily adapted when people become disabled.
14. To explain the steps taken to improve access to the built environment including ensuring that public and private organisations comply with accessibility standards and to detail the effectiveness of these steps.
15. To explain the steps taken to ensure that street designs are accessible to and do not put at risk people with visual and other impairments and to detail the effectiveness of these steps.
16. To provide evidence of the effectiveness of legislation and public initiatives aimed at improving transport accessibility (including bus, rail, taxi and transport by air and sea); and to explain how monitoring is undertaken to ensure compliance with and improvements to meet its obligations under the Convention.
17. To provide an update on the steps taken to ensure the provision of information in accessible and appropriate formats, including Easy Read, and how the effectiveness of these measures is monitored.
18. To provide information on the availability of sign language interpreters, lip speakers and palantypists and the steps being taken to increase availability and ensure disabled people can access appropriate communication support in a timely and cost-effective manner.
19. To explain how current suicide prevention strategies take account of the needs and circumstances of disabled people, in particular those with mental health problems, and to evidence the effectiveness of these steps in reducing suicide rates.
20. To explain the steps taken to ensure that the UK carries out full and independent investigations into deaths in mental health care settings and to evidence the effectiveness of these steps.
21. To explain how the effectiveness of the frameworks governing mental capacity in each nation is being monitored, what actions have been taken to improve the availability of support in decision-making and the outcome of such action.
22. To explain how the effectiveness of the safeguards, which are in place to protect disabled people from abuse, in particular financial abuse, are monitored, to detail the steps taken to eradicate such abuse and to evidence the effectiveness of such steps.
23. To explain the measures taken to improve conviction rates where the victims of crime have mental health conditions or learning disabilities and provide evidence of the effectiveness of such measures.
24. To explain the measures taken to support ‘vulnerable witnesses’ with mental health conditions and learning disabilities and provide evidence of the effectiveness of such measures.
25. To explain how the impact on disabled people of the reform to legal aid and reduction in grants to advice agencies in England and Wales is being monitored and the steps being taken to address any negative effect.
26. To provide evidence of the effect on disabled people of the introduction of fees for employment tribunal cases and to detail the steps being taken to ameliorate any negative effect.
27. To detail the measures that have, or will be, put in place in each nation to ensure that those who are unable to consent to their placement or treatment in psychiatric hospitals and other care settings are protected in law and to explain the monitoring and review mechanisms that have been put in place.
28. To set out the steps taken to safeguard disabled people in health and social care settings, to monitor the effectiveness of such measures and to explain the progress that has been made since the submission of the Initial Report.
29. To detail the measures taken to limit the use of physical and chemical restraint and to evidence the effectiveness of such measures.
30. To provide an evidenced update on the progress that has been made in each nation since the submission of the Initial Report to improve the reporting and prosecution of disability-related hate crime.
31. To detail the initiatives taken to address disability-related harassment and bullying in schools and to evidence the progress that is being made in addressing this issue.
32. To explain what steps it has taken to assess the overall, cumulative impact of welfare reform, changes to social care funding and eligibility criteria and the closure of the ILF on disabled people.
33. To explain what measures have been taken, and what impact they have had, to ensure that the reduction in central government funding to local authorities and health and social care trusts in each nation does not have a negative impact on the realisation of Article 19.
34. To provide information about the steps taken to ensure local authorities understand the Convention rights when setting eligibility criteria for the provision of social care.
35. To provide information on the numbers of local authorities that charge for social care and how charging policies are monitored to identify the impact on disabled people.
36. To demonstrate, with examples, the extent to which measures taken in each nation ensure the portability of social care packages.
37. What steps are being taken to move people with learning disabilities who are living inappropriately in assessment and treatment units to more suitable accommodation where they are able to live and participate inclusively in their local communities?
38. What measures have been taken, and what impact they have had, to ensure that the closure of the Independent Living Fund (with the exception of Scotland) does not have a negative impact on the realisation of Article 19?
39. To set out the initiatives undertaken in each nation to promote better understanding of the needs of disabled parents and the effect these initiatives have had, and explain what information is provided to disabled parents about pregnancy, birth and caring for children.
40. To explain how reform of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the current Additional Support Needs (ASN) system in Scotland, will improve educational outcomes for and participation of disabled children and young people.
41. To confirm the position in relation to inclusive education and explain how they will ensure the education system at all levels is inclusive and geared towards supporting disabled people to achieve their full potential and participate equally in society.
42. To provide information about the measures taken to identify and reduce both unlawful and lawful exclusion of disabled pupils across the UK and to explain how progress is monitored.
43. To explain the steps taken to improve the process of transition for disabled children and young people from children’s education services to further education and employment services in each nation, the effect these are having and how progress is monitored?
44. What measures have been put in place to address the health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions and to provide evidence of the progress that has been made to ensure they receive appropriate and tailored health care services.
45. To set out the measures taken to ensure awareness and availability of advocacy services for people with learning disabilities and people with mental health conditions and to provide evidence of the effectiveness of those measures.
46. To provide evidence of what progress has been made to ensure the safeguards provided for in mental health legislation operate effectively.
47. To provide information about the steps being taken to ensure greater respect for the human rights of disabled people in mental health settings and to evidence the effectiveness of these steps.
UKIM recommends that the CRPD Committee ask the Northern Ireland Executive:
48. To confirm when a new Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland will be adopted.
UKIM recommends that the CRPD Committee ask the UK:
49. To provide an update on progress made to address the employment and pay gaps between disabled and non-disabled workers.
50. To explain how the actions outlined in the Initial Report have created a positive approach by employers to disabled people; whether they are having the effect of addressing employers’ negative perceptions of disabled people as employees and, if so, how these initiatives will be extended.
51. To explain how service providers delivering the Work Programme are ensuring that disabled people with complex support requirements have equal access to work and employment opportunities.
52. To provide information on the steps taken to identity and address the impact of the various reforms to social security on disabled people’s human rights and the realisation of Article 28.
53. To explain the measures taken to ensure that voting ballots, postal votes and information explaining how to cast your vote are available in a range of accessible formats.
54. To explain how new technologies are being used to overcome the barriers that prevent disabled people from voting.
55. To explain how it ensures that polling stations are accessible.
56. To provide information about the steps taken in each nation to improve the representation of disabled people on boards of public bodies and how progress is being monitored.
57. To provide up-to-date information about the number of disabled people participating in sport and physical activity and the progress made in all nations since the Initial Report.
58. To explain how the initiatives set out in the Initial Report have increased disabled people's access to and participation in cultural life.
59. To provide information on the statistics and research data collected by the devolved governments to meet the requirements under Article 31.
60. To explain how the disability equality indicators have been developed in accordance with the CRPD.
61. What steps it has taken to identify and fill gaps in the collection of disability statistics, including measures to ensure this data is disaggregated by equality characteristics.
62. To explain how implementation of the Convention is coordinated across all the nations and whether integrated action plans will be developed, with clear actions and time-bound indicators at the UK-wide and national level.
63. How does the UK ensure coordination on implementation across Government departments, in each jurisdiction?
64. How does the UK intend to develop the framework for promotion, protection and monitoring implementation to involve and coordinate the work of key stakeholders?
65. What steps it has taken – including details of what practical and financial resources it has provided – to ensure that disabled people and their representative organisations are involved and actively participate in the reporting process and how this is coordinated across the UK.
66. What steps it has taken to review, and details of any evidence relied on as the basis to retain the reservations and interpretative declaration.
I hope the reader took the time to read the whole list, as it concisely reveals the full horror of the situation faced by impaired Brits disabled by British society due to an uncaring, intolerant and heedless UK government.
Ian Jones' own shock and exasperation is tangible in his comments attached to the update in which he shared the EHRC's interim report (bold text is this author's highlight).
I am stunned by this! The UNCRPD was ratified in the UK in June 2009 and I cannot understand why the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, the Joint Committee on Human Rights or the Disability Commissioner Chris Holmes did not ask these questions then and keep asking them until they were satisfied with the response.
Just another example of how Disabled People have been betrayed by those that claim to act in our interests.
What the heck have these organisations actually been doing whilst folk are starving, freezing, committing suicide or dying due to failure to make social security payments to which they are legally entitled or making them aware of Short Term Benefit Advances which replaced Crisis Loans?
I personally have never felt so threatened as I have in Britain under the ConDems. I pray that the general election next May brings in a more compassionate government. However, I shall not be holding my breath as four of the main parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP) are all neo-liberal, none of which wish to genuinely support disabled folk - in my opinion of course.
And a final comment: there appears to be no mention or reference in the whole document to folk with disabilities who come from BME or Queer sub-cultures. Like women, who are in fact mentioned, these groups are doubly discriminated against and often - as here - invisible to the Establishment.