Progress on Disability Rights in the United Kingdom #SaveWILG

Yesterday, I was alerted to the publication of UK Independent mechanism update report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This is a very illuminating document that shows just how far behind the United Kingdom is slipping in terms of Disability Rights. The sections about Independent Living is of particular interest to me and my comrades as it is critical of the current arrangements that we are having to put up with. It provides yet more evidence of the need to save WILG as well as some worrying news that the Welsh Government are rushing through a new framework on Independent Living for disabled people that is bound to be a huge disappointment to those with high care and support needs. Welsh Labour have proved time and again that they do not want to listen to party members, unions, Labour MP’s, supporters from across the political spectrum or some of their own politicians and are determined to stop WILG.

I am doing everything I can but I am not being listened to at all.  I have been robbed of three years of my life and the effect of this campaign has taken a huge toll on my health.

I will carry on the fight until the bitter end because I believe in what I am fighting for and have no confidence in the Welsh Government – as it stands – to produce a suitable alternative.

The fight continues…

*** 

The section on Wales, reads as follows:

Wales –

The EHRC is concerned that disabled people’s right to independent living may be harmed by the Welsh Government’s decision to potentially merge the Supporting People programme with other budget lines from 2020. Concerns have been raised that disabled people’s rights have been negatively affected when equivalent funding programmes elsewhere in the UK have been lost. 

The report goes on to say the following:

Wales

The Welsh Government has prioritised social care in budget allocations to local
authorities since 2010, most recently through a local government settlement to
maintain the assumed Welsh Government share of core spending at 2017/18 levels
until 2020. The Welsh Government also provides funding that supports social care
duties through the Supporting People programme. This support helps people to live
independently in their own home. The programme has been retained for a further
two years as part of the budget for 2018/19. The programme’s future post-2019 is
unclear, with the Welsh Government potentially merging it with nine other budget
lines, with no ring fencing, causing concern for disabled people. A £60 million
integrated care fund has been introduced, which aims to support people to maintain their independence and remain in their own home. However, there has been a real terms reduction in budgets for social care services of over 12% due to increasing need.

The Welsh Government is currently reviewing its Framework for Action on
Independent Living. After a delay, it is anticipated that the new framework, provisionally entitled ‘Action on disability: The right to independent living’, will now be published in autumn 2018. The new framework will be accompanied by an action plan that will set out a range of actions aimed at tackling some of the key barriers identified by disabled people, including in transport, employment and housing, and access to buildings and public spaces.

I am looking forward to seeing what this new framework for action actually entails. I am preparing to be disappointed as  I always am with shambolic Welsh Labour.

***

The full report on the Right to Independent Living can be seen below:

2. The right to live independently in the community (article 19)

CRPD Committee concluding observations 2017, paragraph 45:

‘The Committee recommends that the State party … : recognise the right to living
independently and being included in the community as a subjective right,
recognise the enforce ability of all its elements, and adopt rights-based policies,
regulations and guidelines to ensure implementation; conduct periodic
assessments in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities
to address and prevent the negative effects of policy reforms through sufficiently
funded and appropriate strategies in the area of social support and living
independently; … [and] allocate sufficient resources to ensure that support
services are available, accessible, affordable, acceptable, adaptable and are
sensitive to different living conditions for all persons with disabilities in urban and
rural areas.’

Summary of progress

There has been limited progress on the UK governments’ implementation of the
CRPD Committee’s recommendations concerning disabled people’s right to live
independently in the community. Appropriate social care packages and accessible
housing are two of the cornerstones of independent living. There have been some
promising developments in Scotland and Wales in relation to certain funding streams
to support independent living. However, as set out below, there is also evidence that
social care, particularly adult social care, is at crisis point across the UK and there is
a chronic shortage of accessible homes.

Progress on disability rights in the United Kingdom 

Key concerns

UK

The right to live independently in the community is not recognised as a statutory right
in the UK and there do not appear to be any plans to change this.
The increasing demand, along with reduced funding, for social care, particularly adult
social care, may be leading to a regression in disabled people’s article 19 rights to
live independently in the community. The shortage of accessible and adaptable
homes, and long delays in making existing homes accessible, also has a detrimental
effect on the right to live independently.

England

The EHRC is concerned that, in England, the closure of the Independent Living Fund
and the devolution of this function to local authorities, without ring-fencing finance for
this purpose, has resulted in a postcode lottery for support.

Wales

The EHRC is concerned that disabled people’s right to independent living may be
harmed by the Welsh Government’s decision to potentially merge the Supporting
People programme with other budget lines from 2020.
Concerns have been raised that disabled people’s rights have been negatively
affected when equivalent funding programmes elsewhere in the UK have been lost.

Northern Ireland

The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, while enacted, continues to have
no clear time frame for its commencement.

In Northern Ireland, the Independent Living Fund is administered by the Independent
Living Fund Scotland, but restricted to existing users leading to its eventual defacto
closure, and with no clear indication of future arrangements.

Scotland

Despite positive policy intentions, significant questions remain regarding the
implementation of Self-directed Support and access to adult social care.

New evidence

Great Britain

The EHRC’s inquiry into housing for disabled people across Great Britain (GB),
published in May 2018, found that disabled people face a shortage of accessible and
adaptable homes and long delays in making existing homes accessible. Disabled
people are not getting the support they need to live independently as the provision of
advice, support and advocacy is patchy, and people report that they have nowhere
to turn when their housing is unsuitable. The EHRC’s survey of local authorities
found that just over a quarter (28%) of local authorities in GB set a percentage target
for accessible housing.

 In England, only 7% of homes offer minimal accessibility features.

 In Scotland, 55% of councils said a lack of funding for adaptations was a
challenge, and only 24% said the data they hold about disabled people’s
housing requirements were ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

 In Wales, only 5% of local authorities have a target in place for accessible
housing, and only 15% said that disabled people’s housing needs are subject
to specific discussion or scrutiny when conducting a local housing market
assessment.

Progress on disability rights in the United Kingdom

England
Spending for adult social care in England was budgeted to be 3% lower in 2017/18
than in 2009/10. As the population has grown over this period, this is equivalent to
9% lower per person, according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social
Services (ADASS). This means ‘fewer older and disabled people with more complex
care and support needs getting less long-term care’.

In March 2018, the EHRC started legal action against 13 clinical commissioning
groups because their NHS Continuing Healthcare policies restricted funding and
failed to account for individual circumstances. This may force disabled people into
residential care when their preference is to remain at home.

Research by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that nearly two-thirds of placements in residential-based mental health rehabilitation services are ‘out of area’, and very lengthy. This means that individuals are usually placed far away both from home and from the local support services that should care for them once they have been discharged. The CQC has also reported that some patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 continue to experience care that does not fully protect their rights or ensure their well-being. For example, there have been no improvements in involving patients in developing their care plans, and in making sure their views are considered in care decisions.

Northern Ireland
There is an absence of information on the extent to which disabled people with
substantive needs, who are not existing Independent Living Fund users, are having their needs met through the Self-directed Support and direct payment provisions. Furthermore, direct payments do not fund many of the activities funded by the
Independent Living Fund, leading to less support and control.

Indicator 42 of the draft ‘programme for government’ considers the average life
satisfaction score of disabled people. The Department for Communities has
acknowledged that the comprehensive dis-aggregated data required to support
indicator 42 is lacking. The department has conducted a scoping study to identify
existing data, which recommended that a new Northern Ireland disability survey is
required. The department is exploring options for such a survey, but, due to the
additional resources required to conduct the survey, ministerial approval is required.
With the continued suspension of the Northern Ireland devolved government, it is
currently not possible to obtain the required approval.

Relevant steps taken by UK governments

England

Since 2015, the UK Government has allocated additional funding to local authorities
for adult social care through the adult social care precept, the Better Care Fund
and a commitment to fund an adult social care support grant. However,
stakeholders, including ADASS, conclude that even these recent increases may not
be enough to address the funding crisis in adult social care.

In March 2017, the Conservative Government announced a green paper on social
care in England, and a public consultation. The publication of the green paper, which
will focus on older people, has been delayed until the end of 2018. It is unclear whether it will address issues that are faced by working-age disabled people in
relation to social care, and whether disabled people will be explicitly consulted.

England and Wales

The independent review of the MHA 1983 published its interim report in May 2018,
providing details of the issues the review is examining.These include the rising
rates of people being detained under the act and inappropriate and/or long-term
placement of people with learning disabilities and/or autism in psychiatric hospitals
because community support services are unable to meet their needs. The EHRC
hopes that the review will make recommendations that result in fewer people facing
compulsory detention and more people living independently in places or with people
of their choosing.

Wales

The Welsh Government has prioritised social care in budget allocations to local
authorities since 2010, most recently through a local government settlement to
maintain the assumed Welsh Government share of core spending at 2017/18 levels
until 2020. The Welsh Government also provides funding that supports social care
duties through the Supporting People programme. This support helps people to live
independently in their own home. The programme has been retained for a further
two years as part of the budget for 2018/19. The programme’s future post-2019 is
unclear, with the Welsh Government potentially merging it with nine other budget
lines, with no ring fencing, causing concern for disabled people. A £60 million
integrated care fund has been introduced, which aims to support people to maintain
their independence and remain in their own home. However, there has been a real
terms reduction in budgets for social care services of over 12% due to increasing
need.

The Welsh Government is currently reviewing its Framework for Action on
Independent Living. After a delay, it is anticipated that the new framework provisionally entitled ‘Action on disability: The right to independent living’, will now be
published in autumn 2018. The new framework will be accompanied by an action
plan that will set out a range of actions aimed at tackling some of the key barriers
identified by disabled people, including in transport, employment and housing, and
access to buildings and public spaces.

Northern Ireland

The draft programme for government indicator 42 includes a commitment to
increase take-up of Self-directed Support and direct payments. However, a final plan
has yet to be approved in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.
Concerns have been raised that Self-directed Support does not suit everyone, that
too much control is given to the health trusts, and that the support given is not
enough to be used for more than the individual recipient’s basic needs.

In the absence of an approved programme for government, the Northern Ireland
Executive Office has developed a 2018/19 outcomes delivery plan that reflects the
responsibilities placed on departments by the previous NI Assembly and Northern
Ireland Executive, and sets out actions that the departments can take without further
ministerial approval. Outcomes 8 (care and help for those in need) and 9 (a shared,
welcoming and confident society that respects diversity) include a commitment to
improve quality of life for disabled people. The identified actions for fulfilling these
outcomes include ensuring that 8% of new social homes are wheelchair accessible,
introducing opportunities for 200 new NI athletes in the Special Olympics, and
improving understanding of British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.
Progress will be measured every six months, using a number of indicators set out in
the draft programme for government, including indicator 42. Questions have been
raised in particular regarding the plans for new accessible social homes and whether
an 8% target for new accessible social homes is reflective of demand. It has also
been questioned whether the new accessible social homes will be provided in a way
that addresses the demand in rural and urban areas.

Scotland

The Scottish Government has announced funding for 31 projects delivering direct
and local independent support across 31 local authority areas, through the Support
in the Right Direction 2021 programme. Funding will be provided between October
2018 and March 2021, with the aim of ensuring that more people across Scotland
who require social care are empowered to make choices about their support.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that by 1 April 2019 it will extend free
personal care to all those under the age of 65 who require it, regardless of their
condition.

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