THE Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned of the consequences of continuing inaction from governments in addressing problems faced by disabled people.

In a new report submitted to the United Nations (UN), the EHRC warns that many disabled people continue to face discrimination in the UK, and the situation continues to worsen, particularly in light of current cost-of-living pressures.

Produced in collaboration with the other equality bodies and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in Britain and Northern Ireland, the report follows a 2016 UN inquiry into the state of rights for disabled people in the UK, after which the UN published a list of 11 recommendations for the UK government to protect the rights of disabled people. This inquiry was held under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (CRPD) Optional Protocol.

This latest report assesses the extent to which the previous UN recommendations have been implemented. Despite limited or some progress in certain areas, the Commission has expressed disappointment to see no progress against some other recommendations. While commitments to address some issues have been made, actions have been delayed or do not go far enough.

As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, many of the recommendations made in 2016 are even more relevant now, with over half of disabled people struggling to pay their energy bills in 2022, the EHRC’s report concludes. Disabled people also often face long wait times between applying for and receiving benefits, and they are more likely to use food banks than non-disabled people.

The EHRC has stressed the danger of a continuing failure by the UK and Welsh governments to make necessary reforms, including the addressing of problems with the welfare system, poor engagement with disabled people and their organisations in many parts of the UK, and inadequate public services for disabled people, leaving them at a higher risk of poverty, abuse and poor health.

Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “Alongside other human rights and equality bodies in Britain and Northern Ireland, we urge the governments in London and Cardiff to address the problems faced by disabled people and take action to address the UN’s recommendations from 2016. Disabled people must be treated with dignity, respect and fairness. The recommendations made years ago must be addressed if the lives of disabled people are to improve.”

The UK signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2009. As part of the CRPD, the UK agreed to protect and promote the rights of disabled people, by eliminating disability discrimination, enabling disabled people to live independently, ensuring the education system remains inclusive, and that human rights protections prevent disabled people from facing exploitation, violence and abuse.

The UN inquiry in 2016 was conducted under Article 6 of the CRPD’s Optional Protocol, which the UK has also agreed to follow. This inquiry focused primarily on the rights of disabled people to independent living; standard of living and social protection; and work and employment.

* The EHRC report, Progress on disability rights in the United Kingdom: 2023 is available to download in English and Welsh here.

* Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission