Friday, April 25, 2014

Actions speak louder than words - Labour publish Poverty & Disability taskforce report


Last June the Labour party announced they had appointed an independent taskforce, led by Sir Bert Massie, to write a report looking at ways to break the links between disability and poverty. The report was published yesterday, without a press release, on Labour's policy submission site. This was a report commissioned and requested by the Labour party, which has been produced by volunteers who have given huge amounts of their time, for free, with the hope of being able to make sensible policy suggestions to improve the lives of disabled people.

As Neil Crowther explains on his blog, publishing the report, during the parliamentary recess, without the promised press coverage tells us that Labour do not want to engage with the suggestions made in the report, presumably because some of the suggestions involve spending additional money. Hardly radical within a report specifically commissioned by Shadow Ministers to break the links between disability and poverty, but clearly too radical for a party terrified of being accused of 'welfare spending' in the run up to the general election next year.

Despite this being a report about disabled people, written by a team led by and including disabled people there is not an easy read version available. I can only apologise profusely for this lack of accessible information for the one million people with learning disabilities who are eligible to vote. We did not forget any of you. An easy read version was requested some weeks ago, and quotes provided to the Labour party. The cost of putting the report recommendations into an easy read format was approximately £250-£300 - hardly in Liam Byrne "there's no money" territory.

The provision of accessible information tells people what an organisation thinks of them. Providing proper accessible information says 'we value you, and its really important to us that you have the same information as everyone'. Not providing that access, especially in a report about disabled people, by disabled people, commissioned to break the links between poverty and disability demonstrates a disdain for those disabled people. These are of course all the same disabled people that Labour would like to vote for them. Actions speak louder than words, and despite what they may try to say through the press or campaigners, the clear message here is that Labour do not have any significant policies to improve the lives of disabled people, and that they are not willing to publicise the report they themselves commissioned to try and find some of these positive policy suggestions.

If you would like to read the report, but require a different access format such as easy read then you need to contact the Labour party directly and request one. The contact details are here

Had there been a press release from the taskforce, this is what we would have said;

 “The taskforce concluded that Britain can and must invest public resources more effectively than at present to create the infrastructure of support that will enable disabled people to escape from and remain resilient to poverty.  This is especially so in these tough economic times when, despite public spending cuts, millions of pounds of public money is being wasted on poorly designed, ineffective and bureaucratic systems such as the Work Capability Assessment, the Work Programme and fragmented public services.  

So we call for real world assessments which focus on people's interaction with the world around them, including the labour market - rather than just on the functional impact of their impairment or health condition. We back the proposals of Disability Rights UK to replace the Work Programme with localised, personalised employment support that places disabled people and employers in the driving seat. We propose an uplift to investment in Access to Work - given the schemes clear returns to the Treasury -and we call for greater integration of employment support, health, social care and education to support people’sparticipation. 

We also explore how disability-related extra costs of living might be reduced, for example through national and local government using its buying power to reduce the costs of aids and equipment and through preventing benefits being swallowed up by social care charges.

We conclude however that disability-related poverty cannot be tackled without further investment in a disability costs benefit. This would take time to develop and implement, but we believe it is a matter of social justice:as disabled people have borne so much of the ‘austerity’spending cuts, despite pre-existing poverty and exclusion, they should be priority beneficiaries of the proceeds of inclusive economic growth.'







10 comments:

Ali B said...

Well said - real shame Labour hasn't had the courage to stand by these recommendations - the fight goes on!

Jacqueline Evans said...

I fear we are going to have more and more problems with the Labour party. For the past 4 years they don't seem to have achieved anything and it looks to continue that way.
Labour asked, labour got and now labour don't want to know...

Kota Atok said...

I am starting to see the need for a political party from and for the disabled community. That step or a major root and branch change or challenge to the labour party. For the political party that is supposed to helping to protect the socially deprived they seem to be awfully chummy with the ConDems who don't want to admit they are screwing a minority over.

Labour have just ticked the box to say they are listening to the disabled minority but in their lack of provision and total apathy to their own report clearly indicated it was theoretical professed support for the matter while the reality was clearly ostensibly the opposite being total passive disregard.

Anonymous said...

The answer is not to form a new party but to get back the one that has been stolen by careerists and opportunists who have no Idea of disability and its numerous effects Kevin Mullins party member

BLACK TRIANGLE CAMPAIGN said...

Mazel Tov for naming and shaming, Kaliya.

BLACK TRIANGLE CAMPAIGN said...

Before bashing us disabled folk

Perhaps Labour could find some cuts HERE:

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/05/15/the-hidden-welfare-state-that-the-u-k-government-dares-not-speak-of/

Anonymous said...

As a 58 yr old woman in the assessment phase of ESA and struggling badly both health wise and financially I truly despair. I wl not qualify for Pension Credit until 66yrs now thx to Labour and ConDemns. My future is bleak. The mood of the country is Scrounger. I feel alone and uncared for, despite spending last 4 yrs caring for a friend who passed away last October. Then there's the Bedroom Tax and CT to contend with. I feel redundant and a burden, and people I once regarded ad friends don't give a monkeys..not really. I'm alright jack rules... don't mean to sound pitiful, but that's how I honestly feel

Anonymous said...

As a person with mental health problems and
a disability I feel I should not be ridiculed but helped with my weaknesses. I feel that the government do not encourage people who have issues to get back into work.
People should be more helpful and understanding towards people with disabilities. We need to be empowered and have our strengths utilized or given more help to bring hope for disabled people.
We have a right to belong, just as much as anybody else.

Anonymous said...

As a more able disabled individual I have made sure I pay 20% tax so that the money can go to pay who have more severe diasbilities than me, I also pay less benefits than before. I still have; DLA and income support and due to being held back I have unknown benefit funding which is compensation from my mental health lawyer.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter what party comes into government, they are all against disabled people. We supposedly live in a civilised society, and yet disabled people are discriminated against. By voting for any of them, you basically are saying you accept this behaviour and are consenting to all the bs that comes with them. Kaliya, keep up the good work. Keep smiling.