Summary of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ‘list of issues’ for the UK

On Tuesday 4 April 2017 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published its ‘list of issues’ for the UK. This followed a meeting with DPOs and equality and human rights bodies in Geneva in March to discuss the evidence that they submitted to the Committee concerning the state of UK disability rights.

The ‘list of issues’ sets out the areas where the Committee believes there may be shortcomings in the UK’s action to implement its obligations arising from the question and takes the form of a number of questions to the government(s) of the UK, which it is asked to answer before the full examination which will take place at the end of August. DPO’s, wider civil society and the equality and human rights commissions are also all invited to respond, most likely by sometime in June (date to be confirmed). The Department for Work and Pensions has said that it will consult on its own response during May

Below is a summary of the headline issues. The Committee has asked the UK:

  • To set out how policy on disability is based on a human rights approach

  • About the mechanisms for coordinating implementation of the Convention across national, devolved and local government
  • In particular it inquires about the status and outcomes resulting from ‘Fulfilling Potential’, the UK government’s disability strategy
  • About measures taken to protect the right to life and to address inequalities in life expectancy
  • About gaps in the Equality Act 2010 and in relation to parts of the Act not yet implemented concerning reasonable adjustments
  • About ‘Measures to prevent discrimination on the basis of potential impairment as regards pregnancy termination
  • How intersectional discrimination is being addressed and in particular about steps to tackle violence against disabled women
  • 
About action to address high levels of poverty among families with disabled children
  • How disabled children and their families are involved in decision-making about their support
  • About steps to tackle disability related harassment and bullying of disabled children in schools
  • How the UK is tackling negative attitudes, in particular towards people with dementia or learning disabilities

  • What steps are being taken to implement, coordinate, monitor and sanction in relation to advancing accessibility
  • What steps are being taken to repeal discriminatory legal capacity laws and to provide access to supported decision-making
  • For evidence regarding the impact of legal aid reforms and employment tribunal fees on disabled people’s access to justice
  • What training has been provided to the judiciary regarding the rights of persons with disabilities
  • How measures concerning deprivation of liberty are rooted in the principle of supported decision making
  • About steps taken to eliminate involuntary detention of disabled people in hospitals, institutions and residential homes on the basis of disability
  • About steps to eliminate the use of restraint in all settings
  • About the scope and efficacy of the governments strategy and action to eliminate disability hate crime

  • To identify the legal protection of the right to independent living and the means by which disabled people can enforce it
  • About sufficiency of budget allocation to ensure realisation of the right to live independently and to be included in the community
  • ‘How the State party calculate the costs of independent living vis-à-vis institutionalization of persons with disabilities’
  • About the legal mechanisms to ensure the availability of support based on choice, control and inclusion

  • About the availability and funding of sign language interpretation

  • For data on numbers in mainstream or segregated education and for info on measures to promote inclusive education
  • About measures to mitigate any negative impact on  access to education to young persons with disabilities in particular from low income households vis-à-vis the reduction in the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) in England;
  • How health inequalities are monitored & eliminated
  • 
What mechanisms exist to address the suicide rate among disabled people
  • About measures to eliminate disability poverty and for evidence of outcomes of any strategies to do so
  • How government monitors impact on the right to an adequate standard of living of policies and programmes, including cumulative impact
  • How the government ensures the Work Capability Assesment is individualised and based on the social not medical model of disability
  • About steps to ensure equal access to voting in elections
  • For updated information on the coordinating mechanism (the Office for Disability Issues) and the involvement of disabled people


The list is a good outcome for all who have been contributing to the examination and helpfully frames the chief challenges facing disability rights in the UK.  This will provide a benchmark for future examinations, irrespective of which party or parties form the governments of the UK.

The chief task now is to secure some sharp, actionable findings and recommendations in the Committee’s ‘concluding observations’ that can underpin advocacy efforts in the months and years ahead, and in particular to ensure that they speak to the ever more devolved context of the UK.

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