UK government making "slow progress" in improving the lives of disabled people, a human rights watchdog says

The watchdog says little progress has been made on 2016 report that the government violated disabled people’s rights
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Disabled people in the UK face worsening discrimination and a growing risk of poverty - with the UK government making "slow progress" in improving their lives.

Human rights watchdog, The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), says successive UK governments have made little or no progress after some recommendations made by a United Nations inquiry in 2016 had not been delivered.

The report states disabled people continue to be at disproportionately high risk of poverty, low income, and poor public services. They also say they are more likely to still suffer from public prejudice and media stereotyping.

A disabled entrance door button. (Picture: PA Wire/PA Images)A disabled entrance door button. (Picture: PA Wire/PA Images)
A disabled entrance door button. (Picture: PA Wire/PA Images)

The UN called for changes after investigating the rights of disabled people in the UK as the government said it was already making reforms and taking action.

The report assesses the extent to which the previous UN recommendations from 2016 have been implemented.

The EHRC said, despite limited progress in certain areas, "we are disappointed to see 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 human rights watchdog says.

The report revealed there has been no progress in monitoring the impact of welfare reforms or access to justice for disabled people along with gaps in "meaningful engagement" between governments and disabled people across many parts of the UK.

The EHRC said there continues to be a disproportionate number of disabled people living on low incomes or in poverty with some facing long waits for decisions on eligibility for benefits.

Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the EHRC, urged the UK and Welsh governments "to address the problems faced by disabled people and take action to address the UN's recommendations from 2016".

The pandemic and the subsequent cost of living crisis had amplified many of the problems raised in the 2016 report, which focused heavily on the disproportionate impact of austerity cuts and welfare changes on disabled people, the EHRC said.

"Disabled people must be treated with dignity, respect and fairness," Ms Falkner said. "The recommendations made years ago must be addressed if the lives of disabled people are to improve." A government spokesperson said it was reforming the health and disability benefits system and was investing £2bn to support sick and disabled people back into work.

"Last month we launched a consultation on our new Disability Action Plan, which is part of this government's commitment to create a society that works for everyone," the spokesperson said.

"Significant work is already being taken forward including reforming the health and disability benefits system, boosting disability benefits by 10.1%, investing £2bn to support sick and disabled people back into work, and helping the most vulnerable with record financial support worth around £3,300 per household.

"We remain committed to making our society a more inclusive and accessible place for all disabled people."

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