UN Concludes Austerity Policies Infringe on Disabled Human Rights

A UN inquiry has concluded that the austerity measures imposed by the UK government on the welfare state amounts to a violation of human rights. The report shows that disabled people have been affected disproportionately by the measures aimed at cutting public spending, particularly within the welfare state.

The report went as far to say that the cuts amount to ‘systematic violations’. A range of policies such as the bedroom tax, social care budgets and cuts to disability benefits have all affected disabled people enormously.

The report was scathing in its criticism of a government that had neglected its duty to provide an environment in which disabled people are not disadvantaged unnecessarily and in which their independence and dignity is under siege.

The report made 11 recommendations, most notably asking the UK government to conduct a study to look at the impact of austerity policies on the disabled. It also implored that the human rights of disabled people are fully upheld.

The report was welcomed by disability campaigners. Linda Burnip, a founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) said it “Came as no surprise to anyone who has followed the stripping away of disabled people’s rights over the last six years.”

The UK government nevertheless remained defiant, rejecting the UN report in a formal statement.  It claimed that the UN report misrepresented a disabled person’s life in the UK, stating that “While the government continues to improve and build on the support available to disabled people, it stands by and is proud of its record.”

The report offers a more damning indictment however, insisting that ministers pushed ahead with benefits reform while being fully aware of the adverse effects it would have on the most disadvantaged members of society.

According to the Guardian:

“Cuts such as those to personal independence payments and the independent living fund had “hindered various aspects of [disabled people’s] right to live independently”, it says, making them more reliant on family and carers and in some instances forcing them into institutional care.”

The bedroom tax has long been a burden on the poorest families in Britain, and has forced some people in eviction and debt which causes untold amounts of misery.

The report states that “Evidence indicates that persons with disabilities affected by cuts in their housing benefits have undergone high levels of stress anxiety and depression as a result of shortfalls in their budget.”

The report also calls into question the “functional assessments” of disabled people who have applied for social security benefits in which people are ‘processed’ like cattle and dehumanized.

Fit for work tests are inherently flawed, according to the report, along with a failed government initiative to get more disabled people into work.

The report condemned an atmosphere in which disabled people were made to feel like they are a drain on tax payers resources and as ‘lazy ‘and ‘burdensome’.

The UK has been a member of the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities since 2007, a body that promotes the ethical treatment of disabled people to give them a chance to live independently within society. 


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