No deal Brexit catastrophic for disabled people

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Inclusion Scotland has said leaving the EU without a deal could lead to chaos and destitution for those with disabilities

18th January 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A charity has warned that a no deal Brexit would be catastrophic for disabled people in Scotland.

Fears of those with disabilities about the potentially life-threatening implications of a no-deal Brexit are growing, as the risk of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal looms ever closer, according to Inclusion Scotland.

Despite the very significant implications of crashing out of the EU without a deal for the one in five people in Scotland who are disabled, Scottish disabled people have been “nowhere in the room” in the planning for a no deal, and there has been no recognition of the likely impacts on them by the UK Government say the charity.

Inclusion Scotland policy officer Susie Fitton said: “A no deal Brexit could lead to chaos, privation and destitution for many people across the UK but disabled people are at heightened risk. They are more likely to be living in poverty, have been hardest hit by austerity which the UN has said has led to ‘grave and systematic violations’ of their rights and face specific threats from a no-deal Brexit.

“Who is considering how food shortages might impact on disabled people who are already reliant on foodbanks, or who have special diets for example? Not all disabled people have health conditions but many do. What happens to disabled people who need medicines imported from the EU for their very survival?

“What about access to social care and healthcare if there are staffing shortages as a result of Brexit, who will support disabled people to live full and independent lives if they can do longer recruit personal assistants who currently come from the EU?

“What about the complete lack of safeguards for a whole system of current legal protections and social support systems for disabled people in Scotland that are underpinned by EU law and which affect disabled people’s everyday lives –protection from discrimination, rights to social security, and vital funding for their organisations for example.”

The charity says that the Scottish Government has recognised that these issues are important and are particularly alive to the need to protect human rights in Scotland post-Brexit but says Holyrood has limited or no power to address some of most important issues Scots disabled people face and to date the UK government has completely overlooked disabled people in their planning for a no deal Brexit.

Fitton added: ”There has not been a single mention of disabled people or disability in the UK government’s White Paper on Brexit or in its position papers on Brexit negotiations and there is no consideration of disabled people at all in the UK Government’s technical notices which set out the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal.

“This is simply unacceptable – where are the all important reassurances that disabled people’s lives won’t be threatened by political choices they have had very little influence or control over?”

Inclusion Scotland, who have been working since the referendum to articulate disabled people’s key concerns about Brexit say that the ‘complete failure to recognise and address the fears of disabled people about a no deal Brexit’ must be viewed in the context of a much more widespread and systematic denial of disabled people’s rights by a UK government that has presided over a raft of austerity-driven welfare cuts that have ruined disabled people’s lives.

The charity has said it is absolutely vital that Scots disabled people and their organisations in Scotland have a voice in the current debates over Brexit south of the border.

Fitton added: “At present our UK politicians and party leaders in Westminster are divided on questions about the Northern Ireland backstop and our alignment with the single market. Very few are talking about how leaving the EU might affect thousands of disabled people in Scotland who would might find it very difficult to survive in the event of a no deal. The UK Government are simply not addressing the key concerns of Scots disabled people in their preparations for Brexit, particularly if we crash out without a deal.

“Organisations across all sectors in Britain are all clamouring to have their concerns heard about Brexit and Scots disabled people’s voices are nowhere near the tables of decision-makers down south. This is extremely concerning, Scots disabled people and their organisations can have no real trust that the UK Government will protect disabled people’s interests and as we have heard one recent commentator put it, ‘if you are not at the table, you are on the menu’.”