Northern Irish social workers could be prosecuted due to benefits ‘rape clause’

Powered by article titled “Northern Irish social workers could be prosecuted due to benefits ‘rape clause'” was written by Anushka Asthana, political editor, for on Sunday 30th July 2017 17.02 UTC

Social workers have warned that they could face criminal prosecution as a result of the government’s decision to extend the two-child limit on benefits, which carries a controversial “rape clause”, to Northern Ireland.

The policy, which only allows a mother to receive key benefits for a third or subsequent child if their conception involved non-consensual sex, has led to huge controversy across the UK.

But it is causing particular alarm in Northern Ireland, where it is an offence not to report a crime to police. That has raised concerns that women will be criminalising themselves if they later come forward and reveal they were raped.

The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers has written to Labour’s Owen Smith to warn that there is also a potential impact for its members.

“Exemptions sought on the basis of a child conceived as a result of a ‘non-consensual sexual act’ require claims to be accredited, and this accreditation can be undertaken by a range of groups, including ‘registered social workers’,” said the NIASW chair, Colin Reid.

“Despite there being various reasons why the claimant may not want the rape to be reported, unless this matter was brought to the attention of the police, the social worker may be liable to criminal prosecution.”

The intervention comes after Smith raised the alarm about ministers trying to impose the policy on universal credit recipients in Northern Ireland, despite the fact that Belfast does not have a functioning executive.

He is demanding a debate and vote in parliament on the issue, which could put Theresa May on a collision course with the DUP, which has previously opposed the policy, but is propping up her minority government.

The policy applies across England, Scotland and Wales for tax credit and universal credit recipients. In Northern Ireland, it has not yet been extended to the latter group, which has opened up an opportunity for Labour to call for a discussion in parliament.

Reid said NIASW was seeking legal advice as to how the relevant section 5 of the 1967 Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) would be applied in these situations.

Smith has written to the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, and the home secretary, Amber Rudd, about the situation, warning that the punishment for failing to report a crime in Northern Ireland can be two years in prison.

“I am writing in order to ask you what consideration you have given to these concerns and what your government is planning to do to ensure that these vulnerable women and DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] employees are not criminalised by their actions,” he wrote to Gauke.

In a second letter to Rudd, Smith asked whether the government was looking to reform criminal laws in Northern Ireland to prevent any possibility of a mother or social worker facing prosecution.

Smith previously told the Guardian: “There is no way the Tories should be able to get away with introducing these controversial changes without parliament debating and voting on them, especially in the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland.”

A government spokesperson responded: “This reform ensures people on benefits have to make the same choices as those supporting themselves solely through work. But we have always been clear this will be delivered in the most effective, compassionate way, with the right safeguards in place.

“This exception is crucial to protect women who are faced with this very difficult situation, and by using third-party professionals who already support vulnerable women, we can ensure it can be applied as sensitively as possible.

“The third-party professionals involved do not need to seek any evidence to confirm the circumstances.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Seriously ill gran who needs a nebuliser to help her breath told to find a job

People who have been following Welfare Weekly for some time will be well aware of how cruel and heartless the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can be. And also how seriously ill and disabled people in desperate need of state support are routinely bullied and harassed into looking for work – even when their own doctors have advised against it.

The following example of how vulnerable people are treated in 21st century Britain may shock some readers, but for those of us who write and read about it on an almost daily basis it comes as no surprise whatsoever. Sadly, it has become all too common.

A seriously ill gran, who needs a nebuliser to help her breath and suffered her second stroke just six weeks ago, has been stripped of her benefits and told she’s “fit for work”. Yes.. you read that correctly.

Pauline Pike, 59, has a long history of health problems and suffered her first stroke at the age of just 35. Her many health problems go back as far as 30 years and include cancer, diverticulitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and asthma.

And yet despite her very obvious frailties and long-term health problems – and how these would make it virtually impossible for her to carry out any kind of job – the DWP has declared that Pauline is well enough to work.

The decision comes following a face-to-face “medical assessment”, which was almost certainly carried out by someone with limited medical knowledge after only a few week’s “training”.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Pauline said: “I just got a call this week and I could not believe what I was hearing.

“I had been to a medical assessment a few weeks back and they found me to be fit for work.

“When I was forced to go for the medical, that was the first time I had been out the house in ages. I went along and I felt as if the woman was putting words into my mouth.

“She was asking if I could walk around the shops if I was with my husband and whether I could use my arms. I felt harassed and as if she had made her mind up before I was even finished.

“I was shocked to be told I was fit to work and flabbergasted when they then rang me and told me my benefits would stop next month and I would need to get a job.

“Who is going to take me on? I can’t breathe and can barely walk about the place. It’s not right to put me through all this especially when I am trying to recover from my second stroke six weeks ago.”

Campaigners storm parliament in protest against government disability policies.

Pauline has been informed that her income support and severe disability allowance will stop on August 17th and says the way she and others are treated by the DWP is a “disgrace”.

“They don’t care” she said. “I am just a number to them.”

She continued: “I’ve been on morphine for at least five years and yet I am expected to just go out and get a job. I have never heard anything so ridiculous.

“I have asthma and have to use a nebuliser several times a day just to breathe. I have COPD which restricts my airways and I had cancer, which led to my kidney being removed.

“I don’t care what they do to me, I am just not going to play along.

“There’s no way I can work – I can barely walk. There always has to be someone with me, either my husband or my daughter.

“When I first went in, the doctor was okay but she was asking me to do things like moving my arms and I could hardly do even half of it.

“I have high blood pressure and this is making it go through the roof. I can’t believe they are putting me and my family through all this.

“It is an utter scandal – the way the Government are treating people is a disgrace.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken after an independent assessment, including all available evidence provided from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone who disagrees with the outcome of their assessment can appeal.”

This article was last updated at 04:47 (GMT) on 30 July 2017.

What you might not know about funding as an unpaid carer

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Last year, the annual State of Caring 2017 report was released by Carers UK; this year’s survey was the largest to date with 7,000 individuals sharing their views on what it is like to be a carer today.

While being a carer is a selfless act that can often bring joy and rewards, let’s not side step around the fact that at times, caring for a loved one can cause anxiety and take a toll on our mental and physical health.

The State of Caring 2017 report revealed that many carers struggle to have that all-important break from their responsibilities, sometimes for years at a time. 40% of unpaid carers reported that they had not had a break from their caring responsibilities in over a year, while 25% admitted that they had not had even one day away from their caring duties in five years.

The report found that currently, only 16% of carers are buying or receiving a break from caring in the form of alternative care provision or respite care. Understandably, among the reasons cited for not taking a break, 31% of respondents stated that they thought the cost of paying for a break was prohibitive, other reasons were lack of awareness and carers not knowing that they could request a break (16%), the person they are caring for will not accept care from others (31%), the support not being on offer (27%) or low confidence in the quality of care (19%).

The financial aspect of providing family care presents a very worrying situation; 22% of family carers admitted that they are struggling to make ends meet, with 30% using their savings, 26% using credit cards, 23% using overdrafts and 17% borrowing money from family or friends. Shockingly, 8% of respondents in the survey stated they were living in a household that received £500 or less in monthly income.

It’s well documented that financial worries can have an impact on our stress and anxiety levels, with around one-third of Britons admitting that money concerns are the biggest cause of stress in life. With stress hormones in the body being detrimental to our immune system and making us more susceptible to illness and fatigue, it’s increasingly important that the financial burden of care is addressed, firstly to ease the financial strain currently being experienced and also to enable those that are providing unpaid care with a higher degree of support, in the form of a break from the duties.

There is in fact, a number of ways that care can be funded. The current carers allowance is the lowest of all benefits at £62.70 per week, and while this rose in line with the Consumer Price Index, other benefits remained frozen. Yet, it’s still an incredibly small amount that is required to be stretched very thinly when forfeiting paid work to support a loved one.

There are a number of Government grants and subsidies that are available for those that require some further support; they can be used for day to day living costs that are not provided by benefits, replacing white goods and buying equipment needed for the person that you are caring for, home repairs and even the cost of a break.

Each local council in the UK also has a Welfare Assistance Scheme (LWAS) that is there to help in urgent circumstances. These schemes provide vouchers that can be used to purchase food, fuel, clothing and living items such as beds or white goods. You may find that the name of these schemes can vary slightly, but you can use this website to see if your local council offers one.

By having a carers assessment carried out, financial circumstances and requirements can be clearly communicated. This is a separate assessment to the person that is being cared for; a carers assessment is about what the carer needs in their role and how they can be supported. It is vital that everyone in a role as an unpaid carer contacts their local social services to request one. Both carers and those being cared for may be entitled to personal budgets; this is an amount of money that is available to families or individuals to ensure that their needs are met with regards to their health and social care, providing them with more control over both of these elements.

There are three types of personal budget – health, social care and education and more advice on each one, including how to apply can be found on the NHS Choices, Directgov and Community Care websites.

There are also grants administered by charities and trusts that focus on a particular illness or disability, that can be used to support families, to purchase equipment that may be required as well as fund short breaks.

It’s vital that those providing unpaid care understand that their own needs are also incredibly important. Exploring ways in which they can receive the support that they need, whether in financial or emotional form, or facilitating time to yourself, or to share the care with professional carers is incredibly important for all involved.

This article was contributed by care experts from Hales Care.

Workers seeking employment justice are trying to get ‘something for nothing’, claims Tory MP

Comment was made just months before the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful. So much for the Tories being the new “worker’s party”?

Ministers vow to end employment tribunal fees after court defeat

Powered by article titled “Ministers vow to end employment tribunal fees after court defeat” was written by Sarah Marsh and Jessica Elgot, for on Wednesday 26th July 2017 11.35 UTC

The government has been forced into a humiliating overhaul of employment tribunal fees after the supreme court ruled they were inconsistent with access to justice.

The highest UK court came down in favour of the trade union Unison, which argued that fees of up to £1,200 were preventing workers – especially those on lower incomes – from getting justice.

The decision by a panel of seven justices, headed by the court’s president, Lord Neuberger, came after the union lost in the high court and court of appeal. The action was brought against the then lord chancellor and justice secretary, Liz Truss.

The Ministry of Justice said it would take “immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid”. Unison said more than £27m of fees needed to be refunded.

The supreme court said it based its conclusion on the fact that fees were “inconsistent with access to justice” and had resulted in a substantial fall in the number of claims being brought.

It said the fees were also contrary to the Equality Act 2010 as they disproportionately affected women.

Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said it was a major victory for employees. “Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand,” he said.

The trade union said the government would have to refund more than £27m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunal since July 2013, when fees were introduced by Chris Grayling, the lord chancellor at the time.

The Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Jo Swinson, who was minister for employment relations when the coalition introduced the fees, said the party had become increasingly concerned about the effects on access to justice and admitted they had been unfair.

“The Conservatives repeatedly blocked my requests for action to redress this in coalition, and then stuck their heads in the sand when official research on pregnancy discrimination showed how much tribunal fees are a problem,” she said.

“The evidence has been mounting for years that employees, including many women facing discrimination at work, have been denied access to justice because of these exorbitant fees.”

The Lib Dem leader, Vince Cable, has previously said Conservative ministers including Grayling repeatedly blocked Lib Dem requests for a review of the fees after cases plummeted in the first year, including a 90% fall in the number of sex discrimination cases.

Cable backed the fees when they were introduced in 2013, saying they would make Britain more “enterprise-friendly”, and said changes would “help ensure that people who work hard and do the right thing are rewarded”.

The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, said the government should “consign their immoral employment tribunal fees to the dustbin of history”.

“The Conservative government – which in coalition with the Lib Dems brought in this immoral restricted access to justice – must now pay a £32m price for attacking workers,” he said.

Prentis said: “The government is not above the law, but when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.”

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “This is a massive win for working people. Too many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they have faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly.

“Tribunal fees have been a bonanza for bad bosses, giving them free rein to mistreat staff. Any fees paid so far should be refunded as soon as possible.”

Prof Nicole Busby, the acting head of the law school at the University of Strathclyde, said it was “a very good day for access to justice”.

Business leaders expressed concern about the court ruling. Seamus Nevin, head of employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said the judgement “opens the door to a spike in malicious or vexatious claims”.

He said: “Since fees were introduced, the government has imposed crude and potentially misleading gender pay reporting requirements, and an immigration skills charge that incentivises recruitment based on place of birth. Both of these could lead to an increase in unjustified claims.”

Mike Spicer, director of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the ruling would leave “employers concerned about a return to the past, when despite winning the majority of cases, companies would often settle to avoid a costly and protracted process even when their case was strong”.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced by the coalition government in July 2013. Charges started at £160 for issuing a claim for lost wages or breach of contract and increased if the case was heard in a tribunal.

More serious claims, including unfair dismissal, came with a fee of £250 plus a hearing fee of £950. This meant total charges came to £1,200, with appeals against decisions costing a further combined sum of £1,600.

A government report found there had been a 70% drop in the number of cases since 2013. Busby said: “If you look at statistics on the fall in claims being brought … there was a significant reduction in areas such as pregnancy discrimination. I am sure those individuals have been prevented from bringing claims.”

Citizens Advice said it had helped people with almost 350,000 employment issues in the last year. It said it had helped people with 72,500 issues concerning pay and entitlements and dealt with 17,500 inquiries about employment tribunals and appeals.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Employment tribunal fees have been a huge barrier to justice, but they are not the only challenge people face. What your rights are, and how to go about getting redress without resorting to an employment tribunal remains a very complicated picture, which is why we’re calling on the government to create a single fair work authority to make it easier for people to get the rights they’re entitled to by clamping down on unlawful business practice.”

Shoaib Khan, a human rights lawyer, said: “The government has wasted precious public funds on implementing this unlawful, discriminatory regime, and all fees it has received will have to be reimbursed, at further public cost. A large amount will also have been spent defending this case all the way to the supreme court. If this cruel scheme was meant to be an additional source of revenue for the government, then it has proved to be counterproductive in every way.”

Tim Forer, a partner in the employment law team at the national law firm Blake Morgan, said estimates of how much the government owed ranged from £27m to £31m. He said the practicalities of how the government planned to reimburse people “remain to be seen, and it is not clear how much it will cost”. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Homeless people in Oxford threatened with £2,500 fines

Powered by article titled “Homeless people in Oxford threatened with £2,500 fines” was written by Sarah Marsh and agencies, for on Wednesday 26th July 2017 09.46 UTC

Homeless people putting their possessions in shop doorways in Oxford have been threatened with fines of up to £2,500.

Legal notices have been pinned on to bags belonging to rough sleepers, warning that they could be prosecuted by Oxford city council for being in breach of antisocial behaviour laws.

The notices said the council felt the conduct was “having a detrimental effect … on the quality of life of those in the locality”. Breaking antisocial behaviour laws can result in a penalty fine of up to £2,500.

The move has been criticised by the former county councillor Larry Sanders, the brother of the former US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

The health and social care spokesperson for the Green party said: “In general, everybody knows that vulnerable people are not helped by fines and harassment. If anything helps, it’s thoughtful kindness.

Asked if he was talking about the fines when he used the term harassment, he said: “I think that the whole system does amount to harassment, yes.”

Sanders said the underlying problem was government cuts and the housing crisis.

The Green party councillor and leader of Oxford city council’s Green group, David Thomas, described the warnings as “intimidating”.

Thomas was sent pictures of the notices by a party colleague. He described them as an inappropriate use of antisocial behaviour legislation.

Be Myself: Lucy’s story of homelessness and survival

“Using antisocial legislation to sweep the homeless off the streets whilst refusing to re-open a 50-bed homeless hostel in the city centre shows how skewed the priorities of Oxford city’s Labour-run council have become,” he said.

“There a pattern here. It’s only a couple of years ago that Oxford Labour tried to fine the homeless for sleeping rough in the city centre. It took an alliance of student activists, Liberty and the Greens to make them see sense that time.”

Oxford city council said it was committed to helping the homeless. Speaking via its Twitter account, it said bags had been left blocking fire escapes in Cornmarket Street and they posed a “risk to those working inside”.

“We work closely with homelessness charities to support homeless people in Oxford, and every year we spend £1.4m to fund a wide range of outreach and support services.”

Oxford has one of the highest number of rough sleepers in the country outside of the capital. In 2015 an Oxford University student union group set up a petition to persuade the council to abandon its plans to ban rough sleeping. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Social care providers to escape fines for minimum wage violations

The UK government has today announced that it is waiving historic financial penalties against social care providers who are found to of underpaid employees in respect to “sleep-in” shift pay.

The announcement is in response to concerns expressed by the sector that enforcement activity may destabilise an already struggling social care sector.

Government Ministers have reportedly worked closely with the social care sector, responding to concerns that financial penalties and arrears of wages could have a detrimental effect on the long-term viability of providers, and in-turn prove to be harmful for social care users themselves.

The government say they accept that the cumulative impact of penalties and the arrears of wages could pose significant challenges to the social care sector. Due to existing pressures, providers may be unable to repay their workers what they are owed.

Today’s announcement means HMRC will waive historic financial penalties owed by employers who have underpaid their workers for overnight sleep-in shifts before 26 July 2017.

HMRC will also temporarily suspend enforcement activity related to the payment for “sleep-in” shifts by social care providers until 2 October 2017.

The waiver (see paragraphs 6 and 7) will apply to any arrears of pay resulting from “sleep-in” shifts that took place before today.

The government says it will continue to work with the social care sector during the suspension of enforcement activity, to see how it might be possible to minimise any impact on the provision of social care.

However, the government insists it remains committed to ensuring workers in the sector are fairly remunerated for the vital work they do, stressing that providers are still expected to pay their workers “according to the law”.

Any employer underpaying their staff for “sleep-in” shifts in the future will remain liable to pay financial penalties of up to 200% of the arrears discovered by HMRC.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care Minister, said: “This announcement does little to help sort out the issue of pay for sleep-in shifts.

“Care providers still face a £400 million bill and care workers still have no idea when they will get the money they have rightfully earned.

“Delaying enforcement action for a few weeks does nothing to address the issue and is a dangerous and retrograde step that risks undermining the very principle of a statutory minimum wage.

“If an exemption is granted in this case, it will not be long before other employers start pleading poverty to get out of their duty to properly pay their workforce.

“This Tory Government needs to stop burying its head in the sand about the problems in social care and put the funding of social care on a long-term sustainable footing.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This announcement is a huge blow for low-paid workers. Each year, care workers are collectively cheated of £130m in wages, but this outrageous state of affairs has failed to prompt any meaningful reaction from the government.

“Now ministers see fit to cave in for employers, many of whom have been ruthlessly exploiting care workers for years.

“There is nothing in the government’s plans that sets out how ministers will ensure care staff get the money they are owed.

“It sends out a message to care workers that they are of little value.”

Universal Credit causing ‘considerable hardship’ for council housing tenants

In a joint report, published today, the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) call on Government to halt to the rollout of Universal Credit (UC) and remove the 7 day wait period for new claims.

Together, the NFA and ARCH, who represent over a million council homes, voice strong concerns at the Government’s plans to accelerate the roll out UC despite evidence of the considerable hardship it is causing to tenants and communities.

The report tracks the impact of welfare reforms on landlords and tenants, highlighting how problems associated with the UC rollout identified in previous research remain unresolved.

Almost four years on from the initial introduction of UC in October 2013 the research shows that delays in the UC assessment process, poor communications between DWP and landlords, and the 7 day waiting period continue to cause significant problems to both landlords and their tenants.

Other issues such as digital access also present problems for 50-65yr old claimants.

The research found that almost three in four UC claimants (73%) have “stubbornly high” rent arrears, totaling £6.68 million, while 40% of families with no previous problems paying their rent are being driven into debt and accumulating rent arrears as a direct consequence of claiming UC.

Furthermore, households already struggling to pay rent at the time of claiming UC are being pushed into even greater debt, with average rent arrears increasing from £611.73 in March 2016 to £772.21 in March 2017.

Both NFA and ARCH say they support the principles of UC, that is encourages individual responsibility, and are developing new practices to support UC claimants and those with the greatest needs.

However, they argue that support provided to tenants by landlords alone is not sufficient to resolve the problems UC claimants face, and call on the government to pause its roll-out until “the system works properly”.

Eamon McGoldrick, NFA Managing Director said: “We are strongly urging Government/DWP to halt the roll out of UC and ‘Pause for thought’ – until the system works properly for both claimants and landlords.

“Our members are supportive of the principles of UC and are willing to work with the DWP to find solutions to the problems identified within our survey.

“In the meantime we are calling on government to restrain its ambition to accelerate roll out UC over the course of 2017/18 and remove the 7 day wait period.”

John Bibby, Chief Executive ARCH added: “If the level of intensive support needed to [help] vulnerable tenants is to be sustained during the planned rollout additional resources are essential.

“Councils and ALMOs are therefore calling on Government to create a Transition Funding Pot to enable councils and landlords to effectively manage the rollout of UC and adequately support vulnerable tenants.

“Without this, increasing numbers of vulnerable households will drop through the net.”

UK ignoring the human rights and basic dignity of people with learning disabilities

A major new report from The Centre for Welfare Reform argues that the UK is tipping backwards to an era of institutionalisation, and of disregard for the human rights and basic dignity of people with learning disabilities.

The report ‘Back to Bedlam‘, written by the distinguished academic and researcher Robin Jackson, warns that decades of progress in advancing disability and human rights is now in reverse, blaming years of austerity and cuts in welfare support.

The report also argues that policies have been imposed without any significant accountability or discussion, adding that many of these decisions mean the UK is now in breach of international standards.

Main findings:

“Ministerial leadership has been progressively watered down. Since 2010 there have been 6 ministers for disabled people: each inexperienced and inept, lasting no more than a year in their post.

“Austerity has targeted disabled people for cuts in income and support; yet the Government’s response to their severe criticism by the United Nations has been arrogant and confused denial.

“Talk of funding reform in social care has proved mere talk, while cuts to social care have been very real indeed. Some statutory bodies have begun invest in institutional solutions, rejecting the right to independent living that is defined by the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“The regulator of health and social care, CQC, is out of its depth, completely unable to safeguard standards or to identify the abuse which is too often found in institutional care settings.

“Too many charities have become passive, unwilling to speak out or criticise government,too dependent on funding or too eager to win contracts to provide services for the government.

“Advocacy bodies are likewise too dependent on local funding and unwilling to criticise the organisations that fund them.

“Independent academic research has become weaker as the research agenda is increasingly defined by government itself.”

Robin Jackson, the author of the report, said: “My fear is that the current pursuit of the policy of austerity when combined with the likely negative consequences of Brexit will set in train an irreversible process that will adversely affect all people with a learning disability and their families.

“If something is going to be done to reverse this process then it needs to be done very soon as time is fast running out.”

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, said: “The UK political system and the charitable and academic sectors are failing people with a learning disability.

“Along with other disabled people, people with a learning disability have become a target for politically inspired injustice and there is no accountability in the current system.

“The failure of the charitable sector is particularly concerning, for they are perceived to represent the interests of people with a learning disability to the general public. If the sector speaks no evil, then ordinary members of the public will hear no evil.”

Key recommendations:

  • The government should promote and ensure the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities which are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • The government should accord an equivalence of regard to a Ministry of Disability as to any other government department.
  • Charities representing people with a learning disability should be more assertive and challenge government policy when and where it is seen to be disadvantageous to people with a learning disability and their families.
  • Charities should avoid any arrangements with government agencies that have the potential of threatening their operational independence and functioning.
  • Advocacy services representing people with a learning disability should be financially resourced from central government and be given the freedom to operate free of external interference.
  • Social care should be treated separately from the National Health Service in order to safeguard its professional integrity and ensure access to adequate financial resources.
  • A new regulatory body for social services should be established to replace the ineffective and discredited Care Quality Commission.
  • The practice of successive governments outsourcing social care provision to large companies should cease.
  • The government should encourage local authorities, charities and private providers to explore and develop a new range of day and residential services for people with a learning disability.
  • The government should closely monitor the introduction of technological developments within the social and health services which have the potential to threaten the wellbeing of people with a learning disability.