The real impact of disability cuts

Here is the full text of the letter published in the Guardian (17 May 2012) from disability organisations and disabled rights advocates, backed by signatories from charities, NGOs, academics and others (including Ekklesia), on the impact of government cuts hitting disabled people.

We are concerned about the current and projected impacts on disabled people of the changes to employment and support allowance; the ongoing issues with the work capability assessment; the reduction in local authority social care expenditure; the replacement of disability living allowance by personal independence payment; the closure of the independent living fund and the cap on housing benefit.

These changes are having an adverse impact on the lives of disabled people and carers, and are likely to erode or remove control and choice over home, work and community life. We fear the changes are retrogressive, and may re-erect barriers to community participation and herald the return of a "feed and clean only" support culture.

We welcomed the publication of the joint committee on human rights' (JCHR) 23rd report, Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living, which calls on the government to publish a cumulative equality impact assessment of the effects on disabled people of current reforms.

The JCHR considers this to be essential, given the government's legal responsibilities as a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD). There must be a commitment to the progressive realisation of the UNCRPD rights, however tough the current economic climate.

We hope the government's response to the report, due by 21 May 2012, will include a commitment to comprehensively assess the cumulative impact of all the reforms listed above on disabled people. Failure to do so raises the question of whether the government is meeting its obligations under international law.

Signed by: Pat Onions (Lanark, South Lanarkshire) and over 36,500 signatures to the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968, Jane Young Disability consultant and campaigner, wearespartacus.org.uk Linda Burnip Member, DPAC steering group, Professor Peter Beresford Chair, Shaping Our Lives, Dr Simon Duffy Director, Centre for Welfare Reform, Richard Hawkes Chief executive, Scope, Paul Farmer Chief executive, Mind, Mark Goldring Chief executive, Mencap Steve Ford Chief executive, Parkinson's UK Rosemary O'Neill, Frances Kelly CarerWatch. Kaliya Franklin Disability rights writer and campaigner, Claire Glasman WinVisible, Steve Griffiths Research and consultancy in social and health policy Peter Spencer Chief executive, Action for M.E., Paul Jenkins Chief executive, Rethink Mental Illness, Dr Ben Baumberg Lecturer in sociology and social policy, University of Kent, Dr Sarah Woodin Lecturer in sociology and social policy, University of Leeds, Nick Rijke Director of policy and research, MS Society, Dan Morton Social Workers Action Network, Caroline Richardson Ouchtoo.org, Norma Curran Values Into Action Scotland, Scottish Campaign for a Fair Society, Sam Barnett-Cormack, Simon Barrow Ekklesia, Teresa Catto-Smith, Carole Rutherford Act Now for Autism, Steven Rose Chair, Campaign for a Fair Society, Clifford Singer False Economy, Pippa Mackie Chief executive, Kingston-upon-Thames CAB, Ali Kashmiri Access Auditor NRAC, Karen Machin St Helens, Merseyside.

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