The FoI team appear to have purposely covered up information relating to Tory responses to the UN who’re conducting their first ever inquiry against the Tory Government in the UK for abuse of disabled people.
On August 20th 2014 FoI requests were sent to The Prime Minister’s Office and The Cabinet Office asking for recorded information ‘containing any formal or informal Government correspondence or statements made in response to finding out about this investigation’.
Both responses stated no information was held. However a third request was made on that same day to the DWP asking for the same information, but the response was extraordinary. Not only did the information supplied not relate to the question being asked, but the information which was messy and inaccurate.
The response stated the United Nations Inquiry was confidential – which is only half true. It is confidential but only until the outcome as the United Nations state themselves here. But in no place did the FoI request ask for that information.
Furthermore since the request was entered, Tory MP Michael Ellis said: “This politically motivated loony left decision brings the UN organisation into disrepute. At a time when there are grave international crises around the world and when in dozens of countries around the world there are no benefits available, this absurd decision is made to attack our country which rightly does more than almost any other to protect the rights of disadvantaged people from all walks of life.”
Then a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “This Government is committed to supporting disabled people and we continue to spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services.”
The creator of the request has now followed procedure and entered an internal review to sort out the messy response. They have made it clear that if the information isn’t provided they will take it up with the Information Commissioners Office.
The United Nations has opened two Inquiries against the Tories but this one is far more serious. In order to be a part of the UN the UK signed various treaties. The areas being called into question are as follows:
- The right to independent living (UNCRPD Article 19)
- The right to work (ICESCR Article 6 and UNCRPD Article 27)
- The right to fair and just conditions of employment (ICESCR Article 7 and UNCRPD Article 27)
- The right to social security (ICESCR Article 9)
- The right to social protection (UNCRPD Article 28)
- The right to an adequate standard of living (ICESCR Article 11 and UNCRPD Article 28)
The right to independent living
“There is prima facie evidence that [the local housing allowance and the size criteria in social housing] are retrogressive, threatening disabled people’s occupation of accessible and affordable housing to enable them to live independently, exercising their right to choose where they live on an equal basis with others.”
“…. when evaluating the Government’s final decision to proceed with the closure of the [Independent Living Fund]… any change in support that threatens fund users’ enjoyment of the right to independent living would constitute impermissible retrogression in relation to UNCRPD Article 19.”
“Given the critical role of social care services in facilitating independent living, we recommend that the Government ensures sufficient investment is directed towards ensuring that disabled people receive the support they need to exercise their right to independent living.”
“Despite the complexity and limitations of cumulative impact assessments, the evidence does appear to show that the JCHR’s concerns about the cumulative impact of a number of reforms and policy changes on independent living have been realised. If disabled people are hit by two, three, four or even more separate changes to benefits, social care and other services, they lose much of the support they need to live independently in the community in terms of UNCRPD Article 19.”
“…. the importance of fulfilling disabled people’s right to independent living is such that serious consideration should be given to incorporating UNCRPD Article 19 (and related international human rights protections) into UK domestic law. This could be done so as to provide an overarching statutory duty on all areas of Government to take account of the need to respect, protect and fulfil disabled people’s right to independent living, and a duty to avoid retrogression, in all relevant policymaking.”
The rights to work, to social security and to an adequate standard of living
“… there continue to be significant barriers to disabled people’s access to the labour market, compromising their enjoyment of the right to work and the right to fair and just conditions of employment.”
“The key concern in relation to employment and support allowance, and the operation of the work capability assessment, is that the structure of the benefit and the frequency of inaccurate assessments leaves many people with long term health conditions in a no-man’s land – neither eligible for out of work benefits nor able to undertake paid work. This failure to provide income replacement benefits to disabled people and people with long term health conditions when they are unable to work constitutes a failure to respect, protect and fulfil disabled people’s right to social security … and, for many disabled people, their right to an adequate standard of living….”
“[Disabled people] are disproportionately affected by the reduced availability of advice services, which has an impact on their enjoyment of their… right to social security and, for many, an adequate standard of living.”
“There are a number of factors that increase the risk of disabled people becoming destitute, which reflect a failure to comply with the minimum core obligations under ICESCR and UNCRPD and to guarantee their rights to social security, social protection and an adequate standard of living…. appropriate recommendations include refocusing the ethos and performance management of DWP and JobCentre Plus so that their primary responsibility is to ensure claimants are able to support themselves and their families – by being supported to enjoy their rights to work, to social security and to an adequate standard of living…”
Significant evidence has already been gathered.
So given all that evidence (and more still being collected), Tory MP Michael Ellis claiming it’s all ‘politically motivated’ we question his integrity. We certainly don’t believe he’s read the above evidence.