|Councils Urged Not to Reduce Care Act Rights
The civil rights group, Liberty, has written to councils asking for the full justifications for invoking “easements”, which are required by law. Disability Rights UK has also written to the 7 councils asking whether government guidance has been followed.
At the end of last week 2 further local authorities, Derbyshire and Coventry suspended Care Act rights, joining, Birmingham,Solihull, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Sunderland. Middlesbrough, which in April had announced suspension of rights, is now back operating under the Care Act.
The majority of authorities say that they have only changed processes for assessments and reviews, however, even these steps could negatively affect support given to disabled citizens. Solihull has confirmed that it has withdrawn support from some disabled people and Derbyshire says it is likely to.
Kamran Mallick , DR UK’s chief executive said “ Taking away Care Act rights from disabled people is completely wrong. we’d ask disabled people experiencing cuts to their care and support, to contact us.”
Read DR UK and Liberty statements in full.
Read Guardian coverage of this story.
Visit the CQC website for more information.
MPs and Peers call for Disability Inclusion
In a letter to the Prime Minister, signed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability and one hundred parliamentarians, calls are made for disabled people to be part of coronavirus strategies. issues addressed include, ensuring accessible information, enabling reasonable adjustments to social distancing rules so disabled people can shop, take exercise etc. asking councils and health bodies to provide essential care and support, and requiring disable people to be part of recovery plans.
Fazilet Hadi, policy lead at DR UK said “It’s great to see this well supported parliamentary initiative and it would be good to have even more signatures on the letter. We’d urge government to respond quickly and positively. Whilst the commitment to a longer term Disability Strategy is welcome, let’s develop a strategy now, for the situation we’re in.”
Read the letter in full on our website.
Thousands of disabled people have struggled to buy food during lock down. The government’s emergency food scheme didn’t reach all the people who needed it, and supermarkets have not put the systems in place to sufficiently meet the reasonable adjustments of their disabled customers, under the Equality Act. DR UK has written to supermarkets asking what action they are taking and not had the courtesy of an answer from Sainsburys, Tesco’s, Morrisons or Asda. DR UK has raised the above issues in our response to the consultation on food supplies being undertaken by the Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
Read our response to the consultation in full.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – Britain’s national equality body which safeguards and enforces the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect – have written an open letter to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) that it is dissatisfied with the response to its original letter, highlighting concerns that a large number of disabled people in the UK, who fall outside the government’s high risk groups, are facing additional barriers to essential shopping.
For more information visit the EHRC website.
Weakening of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans
On 1 May some rights relating to EHC plans were removed. Local authorities and health bodies, now only have to use “reasonable endeavours” to deliver what’s in a plan, rather than delivering it. Also, time scales for various processes have been relaxed. This “modification” of rights applies until the end of May but can be extended.
In an excellent blog, Hayley Mason explains the changes.
Fazilet Hadi, policy lead at DR UK said ‘Any weakening of responsibilities to meet the needs of children and young people with EHC plans, could put pupils and students at greater disadvantage. Whilst support may have to be adapted due to the crisis, from that shown in EHC plans, young people with additional needs, urgently require the appropriate support to be put in place.’
Visit GOV.UK for more information.
EHRC warns of use of Predicted grades
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has responded to Ofqual’s consultation on alternatives to exams and assessments. The Commission fears that disabled pupils and students, those with additional needs and those from BAME groups might be adversely affected by predicted grades.
Read the EHRC response in full.
We Are Not Alone
We are, of course, in the midst of a global pandemic. All over the world disabled people are having to fight for their right to life. The World Independent Living Center Network has produced a statement on our rights.
Read the statement.
EHRC Concerns about justice for Disabled Defendants
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published interim findings relating to the use of video links for court proceedings, highlighting potential for negative impacts on disabled people. The EHRC found that video hearings could impede communication and understanding for some disabled people, particularly those with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions. People with these impairments are significantly over represented in the criminal justice system. Other barriers included failure to record impairments and to make reasonable adjustments. The EHRC sets out a number of recommendations.
Read the EHRC report.
BSL lacking at the daily briefings
We are all familiar with the daily briefings from the government. However if British Sign Language (BSL) is your main language for communication you are still awaiting a live briefing that you can follow.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have now written directly to the Prime Minister reminding him of his commitment on 16th March 2020 that his briefings would match the Welsh and Scottish Government’s briefings and include BSL.
Read the EHRC letter.
AbilityNet offering free telephone support with technology
As well as forcing us all into a period of physical distancing, COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role of technology in maintaining social contact. AbilityNet www.abilitynet.org.uk is a registered charity that supports disabled and older people with technology. Their usual-face-to-face support has been suspended but their FREE helpline (0800 269 545) remains open. Their volunteers are equipped and ready to offer support over the phone or via video call and screen share technology.
The charity is also running a series of free webinars AbilityNet Live! Visit their site to find out the latest topicswww.abilitynet.org.uk/live.
And review prior recorded webinars such as: