Today the Labour Party published the report of the taskforce it established in 2013 to look at ways to break the link between disability and poverty. The press release announcing the setting up of the taskforce by Anne McGuire MP and Liam Byrne MP is below and the report can be downloaded here.
We are advised that there will not be a press release to accompany the launch of the report as it is not the policy of the Labour Party to do so in relation to ‘policy submissions’ (a somewhat interesting and loaded description, given the report was commissioned by Labour shadow Ministers to advise them) hence we are left to promote the report ourselves. This is deeply disappointing and the obvious inference is that Labour does not wish to promote discussion or to engage with its proposals. As the taskforce had no resources it was unable to consult with disabled people and their organisations and we anticipate that the Labour Party will do so in forming its own policies in the coming weeks and months. To these ends it is also deeply disappointing that an easyread version has not been produced, denying the opportunity for people with a learning disability to read our ideas.
Of course Kate Green MP and Rachel Reeves MP did preempt publication of the report last week in a newspaper article (which is not current available on-line) in which they announced that they would reform the Work Capability Assessment. It will be interesting to hear more about the detail of their plans in addition to their response to the other proposals in our report regarding employment support, access to work, costs of living and beefing up our approach to equality.
I hope that disabled people and their organisations will read, discuss, comment and improve upon our proposals and ensure that these critically important issues are not brushed under the carpet.
Labour takes aim at disability poverty (from June 2013)
Labour today launched a new taskforce led by Sir Bert Massie, to look at ways to
break the link between disability and poverty.
Launched as Disability Living Allowance is abolished nationally, the taskforce will
review ways of helping disabled people meet the extra costs that disability
imposes and recommend changes to the social security system to maximise
disabled peoples’ control over their own lives. The taskforce will focus on better
use of existing resources.
The launch of the taskforce follows Ed Miliband’s speech on modernising social
security in which he said a Labour government will reform the government’s
failing programmes to help support more disabled people into work.
Recent figures revealed disabled people are twice as likely to live in low income
households than non disabled people – yet the government’s ‘strivers tax’ will
push 50,000 more disabled people into poverty while the DWP’s Work
Programme is failing to get 98.7 per cent of disabled people into jobs.
The taskforce will be headed by Sir Bert Massie CBE. Sir Bert is disabled and was
previously the CEO of The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation
(now Disability Rights UK) and Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission. He
is currently a Governor of Motability and of Liverpool John Moores University.
Anne McGuire MP said:
“Many of the Government’s changes to social security aren’t helping disabled
people, they are pushing them into poverty. I am delighted that Bert Massie has
agreed to chair the taskforce. The members of the group bring a wealth of
experience, either as disabled people or those who have worked with disabled
people. I am sure they will throw down some interesting challenges to us as we
seek to improve the lives of disabled people.”
Sir Bert Massie said:
“Even in an age of limited resources there are more humane and better ways of
supporting disabled people than this government’s unprecedented assault which
has left millions of disabled people facing greater poverty. I welcome the
determination of the Labour Party to seek ways of enabling disabled citizens to
play a full role in society and to provide the support to bring this about. The
report of the taskforce will suggest ways forward.”
Notes to editors
1) Other members of the taskforce are:
Dr Roger Berry – is a former Member of Parliament and is heavily involved in disability
issues. Prior to becoming a Parliamentarian he taught economics at Bristol University.
Agnes Fletcher – advises organisations on equality law, policy and practice. She was a
Director at the Disability Rights Commission for five years, has provided consultancy to
the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other public bodies and has worked as
an advisor to government. She is a disabled person.
Neil Crowther – is an independent expert specialising in human rights, equalities and
disability rights. He was previously Director of Human Rights at the Equality and Human
Rights Commission. Before joining the EHRC he was Head of Policy at the Disability
Kaliya Frankin – is a disability activist with a deep interest in social security issues.
Disabled herself, she campaigned against changes to disability benefits introduced by the coalition government.
Ian Greaves – is the principle author of the highly respected Disability Rights Handbook.
2) Ed Miliband announced this week that the Labour will reform tests for disability
benefits so that they aren’t just about the benefits people get but about supporting
people to work.
Labour introduced tests for ESA because those that can work should do so. We support
tests for DLA & PIP to ensure the benefit goes to those that need it.
But the test needs to improve. When 42 per cent of people are winning their appeals,
the Government are clearly not getting it right.
But we want to go further and deliver real savings by supporting disabled people into
work and raising the employment rate for disabled people in the UK. We would do that
by making the tests as much about what work people could do and the support that
would be needed to make that happen, as they are about whether or not someone gets
a given benefit.
3) On Monday 10 June new claims for Personal Independence Payment will start in all
parts of Great Britain. There will be no new claims to DLA for people aged 16 to 64.
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