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Theresa May has had enough of the UN breathing down her neck for violating CRPD laws and has threatened to pull the plug on their funding.
The United Kingdom had signed up to CRPD optional protocols to protect the rights of disabled people. It’s a checkbox that gives an appearance the Tories respect disabled people.
In reality the Tories show contempt for the sick, disabled and the poor. They famously blocked a £3 million fund set up by the EU to help UK’s poor people.
Here is what they found..
Extract from page 20..
You can read the full initial UN report here: http://d.pr/f/dob2
TV news has not been completely silent over Tory treatment of disabled people..
The most shocking aspect of the UN report is what it reveals about the UK government’s increasing non-compliance with existing UK legislation. For example, it is obliged by law to carry out impact assessments and gather necessary statistics concerning any policies likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people. But its replies to UN requests for data repeatedly demonstrated that it is in breach of this public sector equality duty. As a result, the government’s schools green paper, published a year ago, failed to conduct the legally required impact assessment, even though this policy would undoubtedly have affected the life chances of many disabled children.
A United Nations committee will hear from British disability campaigners that the Government is breaching the rights of disabled people and ignoring requests for information on key issues.
On Monday activists will tell the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that their previous concerns have only been met with complacent or evasive answers.
In October the CRPD reported that welfare reforms have led to “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights, findings the Government said it strongly disagreed with.
The committee is now conducting a much wider investigation to assess the UK’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, as part of a periodic review all nations signed up to the convention must go through.
Kamran Mallick, the chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said many of the Government’s answers in its submission to the committee “have a tone of complacency at best and high-handed evasion at worst”.
He said it has provided no evidence to show how it is supporting people to lead independent lives, while its description of the Equality Act and the Care Act “simply don’t reflect the everyday experiences of disabled people in the UK”.
Mr Mallick added: “Many disabled people and their families saw the UK’s signature of the international convention as a vital milestone on the journey to true equality and the fulfilment that comes with leading independent, rounded lives.
“They now feel betrayed by the Government’s failure to adhere to either the spirit or the letter of the convention.
“Small steps forward are more than outweighed by a raft of significant adverse measures, such as cruel and demeaning benefit changes and the extension of compulsory mental health treatment to the community.”
Mr Mallick is set to tell the committee in Geneva that a range of Government policies and a lack of appropriate support and services from the NHS and local authorities mean the UK is breaching the human rights of many disabled people.
Many disabled people are unable to live the independent, fulfilling lives they could enjoy if the Government respected the convention, he will say.
CRPD’s review will look at issues such as detentions under mental health legislation, employment, education, transport and housing.
Disability Rights UK and other groups will give verbal evidence to the committee on Monday.
The committee will question representatives from the UK and devolved governments later this week.
The committee’s previous inquiry was instigated by the charity Disabled People Against Cuts, which contacted CRPD in 2012.
Other charities subsequently confirmed that they had also been in contact with the UN.
The UN’s report highlighted the impact of changes to housing benefit entitlement, eligibility criteria for personal independence payments and social care, and the closure of the independent living fund.
Backup to article here
“We were given lists of customers to call immediately and get them on to the Work Programme,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I’m sorry this can’t happen, this man is in hospital.’ I was told [by my boss]: ‘No, you’ve got to phone him and you’ve got to put this to him and he may be sanctioned.’ I said I’m not doing it.” – Angela Neville
Ken Loach talks about the reality in jobcentres as Iain Duncan Smith says “It doesn’t matter as these people don’t vote for us anyway” Watch video
Iain Duncan Smith refuses to be blamed over DWP deaths. Blame should be directed at his colleague Chris Grayling, he hinted. In case that wasn’t enough he tried to blame Labour for the deaths despite the fact that it was the Tories who rolled out the scheme nationally.
“THIS is the story of Paul, believed to be the first person sanctioned for three years by the Department of Work and Pensions in Dundee. Paul has committed no crime but must endure deprivation beyond anything the average prisoner will ever face – with an even longer sentence. That should matter to everyone, because the average Scot without personal savings is just three months away from benefits if they lose their job. And thanks to the punitive sanctions regime, backed by David Cameron and Ruth Davidson, being on benefits these days brings the risk of losing everything.
I met 45-year-old Paul in Dundee Food Bank last week. He doesn’t want his surname used for fear of further penalties. And that’s understandable. He already faces three long years living on just £36 a week. That measly hardship allowance is available because even David Cameron’s welfare state cannot leave claimants completely stony broke. But it’s not the “full” £48 a week either because the DWP is deducting money for past, overpaid claims. The state pays housing benefit and most of Paul’s council tax, though only because support workers made Paul declare his position to Dundee council. Claimants who don’t know they must do that are still liable to pay. From his meagre £36 Paul must pay water and sewerage charges, electricity and gas. He hardly uses heating, preferring to spend the cash on hot water to stay clean and presentable. He has no phone. No computer. No way to replace anything that breaks. And no food. And he must survive like this until September, 2018.
So what on earth did he do to incur the wrath of the DWP?
Paul doesn’t really know.
The DWP sanctions regime doesn’t operate like an angry teacher announcing detention after a specific bit of bad behaviour. Usually claimants go to their bank and simply find no payment. Shortly after that a letter may arrive explaining the length but not the reason for the sanction. You must work that out for yourself.
When sanctions started in 2014, a variety of penalties were announced, ranging from two, four, 13 and 26 weeks to three years without benefits based on the very tough American welfare regime. But according to Dundee support staff, the length of sanctions escalated so quickly that 26-week sanctions are now commonplace.
Worse. According to Making Money Work – a Dundee financial inclusion project – every single sanctioned individual they have helped has mental health problems, depression or learning difficulties. Staff say: “Fly-by-nighters know how not to get sanctioned. The folk getting hit have all got problems managing everyday life let alone the complex systems of the DWP.” Unbelievably one Dundee woman with learning problems ended up with two concurrent 13-week sanctions after DWP staff commented she wasn’t filling in her “work commitment booklet” properly.
Paul, too, failed to show evidence of 10 job searches a week and was sanctioned – then sanctioned again after being 10 minutes late for an appointment and further sanctioned (perhaps) after pointing out that he was usually kept waiting half an hour. He also tried to explain how unrealistic it was to expect a man with no phone or computer to make 10 meaningful job searches a week in a city with the fourth worst employment rate in the UK last year. Who knows – that probably got him another two weeks without benefits.
It certainly put a big dent in the self-esteem of a skilled worker who paid tax and national insurance stamps all of his life until he was laid off as a chef at the Hilton Hotel (along with 250 other staff) when it was demolished in 2014 to make way for the new Waterfront development.
At the time, nothing daunted, Paul had applied for building work on the new V&A Design Museum citing experience on the refurbishment of Waverley Station, the construction of Uphall Station and five years in the construction industry around London when he was 18. But nae luck – even though Dundee council say 59 per cent of Waterfront jobs are earmarked for local people.
Still Paul was confident of landing a job – he had also worked as a ticket collector for C2C in Essex where he lived with his partner and two children – and later at an oil “cracker plant”: “Mair money but you’re basically working with a bomb.” When that unit closed he worked abroad for 10 months before separating from his partner and coming back to work in Scotland. After construction work in Edinburgh, Paul came home to Dundee, retrained as a chef at Dundee College and landed a position at the Hilton.
From a man with a reasonable job in 2014 who was confident he’d easily find re-employment, Paul has become a man utterly stressed by the aggressive attitude and implacable obstacles of the benefits system who must live on thin air for the foreseeable future – despite having so many workplace skills.
And this could happen to almost anyone. According to staff at Making Money Work: “Paul was capable and able when first sanctioned. Now he’s lost a lot of weight through stress and doesn’t want to appeal against any sanctions in case it antagonises them. He seems to have had the fight knocked out of him. It’s a common story.”
Let’s be clear. Paul’s confidence has been destroyed and his skills rendered useless by a sanctions system we finance to help tens of thousands of people find work.
Mercifully though, in Dundee, help is always at hand.
Paul is Dundee food bank’s most regular customer with 11 visits so far. That’s still unusual – 80 per cent of Trussell Fund food bank users in Scotland are one-off clients – but according to Scottish Development Officer Ewan Gurr, more sanctioned claimants are becoming long-term visitors. It’s thought that’s boosted the user total of eight thousand people in Dundee during 2015. The Scotland-wide figures will be announced by the Trussell Trust tomorrow.
The Scottish Unemployed Workers Network is another group of citizen advocates. Volunteers like Tony Cox stand outside the job centre and try to catch sanctioned claimants as they leave. “We tell people about their rights. The DWP tell claimants using the online Universal Job Match is mandatory, for example, but it’s not. If you have learning problems or can’t fathom a computer, you don’t have to. But you do have to argue with them. We are very successful with appeals. But without help claimants just give up when they get a letter saying their “mandatory reconsideration” has failed. We know that’s just the start of the appeals process – not the end of it. But claimants on their own usually give in.”
So why is Dundee still Sanctions City?
Cox says: “The worst cases we deal with are older working-class people with manual jobs – often men who’ve spent their lives working on the roads. Many are illiterate and, if their wife dies or they get divorced, they can’t cope. This sector is where employment has collapsed most. So maybe that’s why Dundee suffers.”
In short, after 40 years digging holes or 40 years cleaning halls, men and women who have contributed taxes and are often broken physically with painful arthritis are being hounded to fall into every one of the DWP’s Kafkaesque traps. They are, in the words of Tony Cox, “first-time sanction fodder”.
And the rollout of Universal Credit will make the situation even worse.
I wonder if Scottish politicians appreciate how much folk like Paul are waiting for some light at the end of the long, hopeless tunnel. For a commitment by every Holyrood leader that the Scottish welfare state will scrap sanctions as soon as it acquires the power, deal fairly with claimants … and demand that Westminster throws the book instead at those stashing their wealth in offshore tax havens.