Yesterday it was revealed that the government has once again failed to communicate with disabled people on one of the issues that affects us most of all, benefit sanctions. It has indefinitely postponed an investigation into the alleged link between the deaths of benefit claimants and DWP policy without consulting its own advisory committee comprised of disabled people. The question remains…
Is this an oversight grounded in lack of competence or a deliberate attempt to avoid critique?
As reported by the Disability News Service “The equality watchdog failed to consult its own committee of disabled advisers before deciding not to investigate deaths of benefit claimants that have been linked to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)”
The Disability Union is founded on the principle that there must be nothing about us, without us and so we are enormously disappointed that the government has failed to engage constructively with its own link to the disability community.
Again, as reported by the DNS
“EHRC had delayed a decision for more than a year on whether to launch an inquiry into links between DWP and the deaths of claimants, and the wider impact of DWP’s policies on disabled people.
It then decided – apparently only last week – that it would not hold such an inquiry this year, and blamed the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Disruption from the pandemic would normally be a viable reason for delaying such an investigation. However, the increased hardship and uncertainty leveled on disabled people during these times increases the need for this investigation to a critical point.
It is the opinion of The Disability Union that without swift changes to the operation of the benefit system many disabled people will unnecessarily lose their lives before the pandemic is over. What’s more, the less disabled people are supported by our social safety net the more their needs will fall to family and friends who could be helping the economy recover through work or other forms of economic activity.
Effective care and support for disabled people is not just a moral imperative, it is an economic necessity.
The Disability Union is calling on the government to:
- Carry out an immediate and independent review of DWP policy on disabled people to identity solutions that can avoid further hardship and death during the pandemic
- To enact those solutions as a matter of urgency for the preservation of the lives of disabled people and to protect the economy by keeping people in work.