Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Minimal progress made to improve the lives of disabled people, report finds

A new report is urging the government to improve the lives of disabled people, as currently, they are at higher risk of poverty, abuse and poor health.

The report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) calls on the government to make various reforms, as they say continued inaction is a ‘danger’ to the lives of people with disabilities.

These reforms include:

  • Addressing problems with the welfare system
  • Engaging with disabled people and their organisations
  • Improving public services for disabled people.

The EHRC are particularly concerned about the ongoing impact of the cost of living crisis, which disabled people have been disproportionately affected by.

Indeed, in 2022, over half of disabled people struggled to pay their energy bills. People with disabilities are also more likely to use food banks and face long wait times between applying for and receiving benefits.

Government has failed to act on recommendations laid out seven years

The report follows on from a 2016 UN inquiry into the state of rights of disabled people in the UK.

Following this, the UN published 11 recommendations for the UK government to protect the rights of disabled people. This latest report assesses the extent to which these recommendations have been implemented.

It found that while there was some progress in certain areas, there was absolutely no progress against some of the recommendations.

The EHRC says the UK government has made some commitments to addressing these areas, but action has been delayed or does not go far enough.

Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the EHRC is now urging the government to take on the recommendations laid out in the report.

She said: “Alongside other human rights and equality bodies in Britain and Northern Ireland, we urge the governments in London and Cardiff to address the problems faced by disabled people and take action to address the UN’s recommendations from 2016.

“Disabled people must be treated with dignity, respect and fairness. The recommendations made years ago must be addressed if the lives of disabled people are to improve.”

People with learning disabilities “repeatedly failed by the government”

The learning disability charity Hft says the report highlights the fact that people with learning disabilities are being “repeatedly failed by the government.”

Hft’s CEO, Kirsty Matthews, is now urging the government to “sustainably invest in social care in the long term and plug the funding gap.

She added: “One of the many points raised by the EHRC is that ‘a lack of social care provision has led to acute violations of disabled people’s human rights’. Our Sector Pulse Check research, released in partnership with Care England, corroborates these findings; 42% of social care providers have no choice but to hand back contracts due to funding pressures whilst, last year, one third of all providers surveyed considered closing altogether.

“Providers want to ensure that all learning disabled adults have the right support to live their best life but chronic underfunding, estimated to be around £7 billion each year, has left a catastrophic amount of needs unmet. How many times do disabled people, charities and other organisations like the EHRC have to raise the alarm before something meaningful is done?”

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