UN savages Tory welfare reforms

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A disabled man protests cuts to benefits in Edinburgh in 2015

​World body finds that welfare reforms "systematically" breached the rights of the disabled

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8th November 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Tory attacks on the rights and dignity of disabled people have been savaged by the United Nations.

A bombshell report by the world body condemned the impact of Westminster welfare reforms.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said the Tories had "gravely or systematically" violated the rights of disabled people.

Members of the UN committee visited Britain in October 2015 and the report was based on more than 200 interviews and some 3,000 pages of documentary evidence.

No-one seems able to make this government listen and act to protect disabled people’s most fundamental right, their right to live

Scottish charities and campaigners submitted evidence to the inquiry.

The 22-page report excoriated Tory welfare cuts and benefit caps.

It states: "Persons with disabilities have been regularly portrayed negatively as being dependent or making a living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers, who are paying 'money for nothing'”.

The committee found that this has led to disabled people facing hostility and aggression.

It found that the government had not factored disabled people's needs into its reforms, and cuts in housing benefits had caused high levels of stress and depression.

Programmes to encourage them to find work "had no visible impact", and many were driven into debt and forced to resort to using foodbanks.

Damningly, the report concludes: “The committee considers that there is reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met.”

It goes on to recommend the setting up of a watchdog to monitor the impact of welfare policies relating to people's standard of living.

Bill Scott, policy director of Inclusion Scotland, which gave evidence to the inquiry, said: “The UN’s report confirms everything that we have been saying about austerity and welfare reform for the past six years.

“The UK government has completely ignored its international treaty obligations and disabled people’s human rights. In doing so it has systematically deprived disabled people of their dignity and respect and the money that they need to live on via sanctions, mandatory reconsiderations, benefit cuts and unfair assessments. 

“The result has seen disabled people losing everything, from their mental wellbeing to their homes and even their lives, with disabled people committing suicide and starving to death after losing their benefits. 

“The UK government should be ashamed but it seems it cannot be embarrassed even by the condemnation of the UN because it does not intend to act on a single recommendation made in the report.

“At times like this we feel near despair that no-one seems able to make this government listen and act to protect disabled people’s most fundamental right, their right to live.”

The UK government issued a rebuttal to the report, saying it “strongly disagreed” with its findings.

A spokesman said: "As a strong parliamentary democracy, where the voices and opinions of disabled people are represented and listened to, the UK is a place where disabled people's rights are respected, promoted and upheld.”