Wales lags behind the rest of the UK in securing disabled people's right to live independently in the community and an independent living strategy is needed to address this, Disability Wales has said.
The claim came as the organisation attended the Houses of Parliament to give oral evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into implementation of the right to independent living. The inquiry, chaired by Dr Hywel Francis MP (Aberavon), is considering a number of questions, including:
- Do existing policy statements represent a coherent approach to implementation of the obligations set out in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)?
- What steps, if any, should be taken to better meet the Article 19 obligations and to secure the right to independent living for all disabled people?
- Are changes to policies, practices or legislation in the UK necessary?
National policies on independent living have been introduced in England and Scotland, but not in Wales. Disability Wales is campaigning for a national delivery strategy on independent living and collected more than 700 signatures in support of this. The petition is being considered by the National Assembly's Petitions Committee.
Rhian Davies, chief executive of Disability Wales, said: "It is wholly unacceptable that Wales lacks a national strategy on independent living. This places disabled people in Wales at a major disadvantage compared to other parts of the UK especially in the current climate of service cuts. "Whilst welcoming the Welsh Government's commitment to reducing discrimination through the Equality Act 2010, this alone will not achieve a coordinated and consistent approach to implementing independent living for disabled people across Wales. We will continue to campaign for a national delivery strategy on independent living and welcome this opportunity to present our case to the Joint Committee on Human Rights."