UK government failing to protect disabled people, warns equality watchdog report

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned of the consequences of continuing inaction from the British government in addressing problems faced by disabled people.

In a report submitted to the United Nations, the EHRC warned that many disabled people continue to face discrimination in the UK, with the situation continuing to worsen in light of cost-of-living pressures.

a handicapped sign on the ground in a parking lot

Produced in collaboration with the other equality bodies and national human rights institutions in Britain and Northern Ireland, the report follows a 2016 UN inquiry into the state of rights for disabled people in the UK, after which the UN published a list of 11 recommendations for the British government to protect the rights of disabled people. This inquiry was held under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ Optional Protocol.

The latest report assessed the extent to which the previous UN recommendations have been implemented. It found that, despite some progress in certain areas, there was no progress against some other recommendations. While commitments to address some issues have been made, actions have been delayed or don’t go far enough.

The report concluded that as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, many of the recommendations made in 2016 were even more relevant now, with over half of disabled people struggling to pay their energy bills in 2022. Disabled people also often face long wait times between applying for and receiving benefits, and are more likely to use food banks than non-disabled people.

The EHRC stressed the danger of a continuing failure by the UK and Welsh governments to make necessary reforms, including to address problems with the welfare system, poor engagement with disabled people and their organisations in many parts of the UK, and inadequate public services for disabled people, leaving them at a higher risk of poverty, abuse and poor health.

EHRC chairwoman Kishwer Falkner said: ‘Alongside other human rights and equality bodies in Britain and Northern Ireland, we urge the governments in London and Cardiff to address the problems faced by disabled people and take action to address the UN’s recommendations from 2016.

‘Disabled people must be treated with dignity, respect and fairness. The recommendations made years ago must be addressed if the lives of disabled people are to improve.’

Image: Jakub Pabis

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