Four human rights and equality watchdogs have been snubbed by the minister for disabled people after raising serious concerns about how her government dismissed a report that found it guilty of “grave or systematic” violations of the UN disability convention. The UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) said last month that the UK government had discriminated against disabled people across three key parts of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). But the government responded to the report by dismissing its conclusions and all 11 of its recommendations. Now the UK’s official independent mechanism (UKIM) for monitoring implementation of the convention – the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Scottish Human Rights Commission – has called on the UK government to “urgently reconsider” its response to the UN report. It has
The minister for disabled people is working on urgent plans to cut the living costs faced by disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits, she has told MPs. Penny Mordaunt was responding to warnings of the “human cost” of “bizarre” government plans to cut more than £1 billion from disabled benefit claimants over the four years from 2017-18. From April, the highly-controversial cuts will see a £30-a-week reduction in payments to new claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) who have been placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG). Ministers have tried to justify the cuts by claiming that they will “incentivise” sick and disabled people to find work. But Mordaunt told MPs on the Commons work and pensions committee this week that she was working on a package of measures to “mitigate the £30”, which would be in place “before April”. She provided few details of how she would do that, other than that she was working at “ensuring that someone’s outgoings can be managed”,
The Motability scheme may be opened up to claimants who do not get the enhanced rate of the mobility component, Penny Mordaunt, minister for disabled people, told MPs last week. The change is one of three major improvements that Mordaunt claims she is planning to make.
In the course of a debate on ESA and PIP on 30 November Mordaunt told MPS that she was discussing a number of changes to PIP with the DWP.
One change would enable PIP claimants to keep their Motability vehicle whilst they are appealing a decision that they are no longer entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP. This should include claimants who lose their Motability entitlement when they move from DLA to PIP.
Mordaunt also wants to change the rules that mean that claimants who are out of the country for more than 13 weeks, other than for medical treatment, generally lose their entitlement to the PIP mobility component.
Most surprisingly, Mordaunt claims that she is “exploring options to allow those who are not in receipt of the higher Motability component to have access to the Motability scheme.” It is not clear how this would work, given that the standard rate of the PIP mobility component would not come close to covering the cost of a Motability vehicle.
The relevant passage from Mordaunt’s comments is:
The minister for disabled people has admitted to complete ignorance about the model that lies at the heart of his government’s programme of disability benefit reforms. Justin Tomlinson was asked what his thoughts were about the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability in a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary disability group on Tuesday. Ministers have repeatedly spoken of how the BPS model is central to their disability benefit reform programme, and successive governments have relied on it to justify slashing disability benefits for more than a decade. Ellen Clifford, from Inclusion London, told the meeting – while Tomlinson was out of the room voting – that the BPS model would be “underpinning” the government’s health and work green paper, which will be published later this year. She said that comments by new work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb earlier in the meeting about the need for closer integration between work and health showed that
The new government has downgraded the importance of the role of the minister for disabled people, just days after winning the general election.
The ministerial post had previously been a junior ministerial role until the October 2013 appointment of Mike Penning, who became a minister of state.
At the time, Penning said: “Making this a senior ministerial post shows the government’s commitment to disabled people and ensuring everyone can get on in life.”
His successor as minister for disabled people, Mark Harper, was also a minister of state.
But following last week’s announcements by prime minister David Cameron of his new government, it has emerged that the new minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, will be merely a junior minister, or under-secretary.
Kate Green, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said: “What disabled people need and deserve is a minister who understands the issues, commands respect of colleagues and will stand up for their rights.
“Downgrading the role in government calls into question the importance David Cameron gives to the interests of disabled people.”
Since his appointment, Tomlinson has not responded to a request from Disability News Service for an interview.
Despite Penning’s comments in 2013, a spokesman for Number 10 said: “The status of the office of minister for disabled people remains unchanged.
“Ministerial ranks are based on the experience of the office holder and do not have any bearing on the importance of the office itself.”
When asked whether this contradicted the remarks made by Penning, he refused to comment further.
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com