The United Nations is to launch an inquiry into whether Tory attacks on the disabled have led to ‘grave or systematic violations’ of their human rights.
The Department of Work and Pensions revealed last week that 2,380 people died within six weeks of being thrown off benefits after being declared ‘fit to work’ by the government between 2011 and 2014. The Department for Work and Pensions fought for months against disability charities and campaigners in order to not release the numbers.
However, the Information Commissioner ruled that the government had no justifiable reason to withhold the figures. A formal inquiry has now been launched by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
UN investigations are conducted confidentially, but a visit by the UN’s Special Rapporteur and members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is expected soon. Disability rights campaigners and charities say that disabled people have seen their quality of life collapse as a result of the Tory benefit cuts and cuts to services.
Research by The Centre for Welfare Reform found that disabled people have already been hit up to 19 times harder by cuts than others. According to Inclusion Scotland, a consortium of disability organisations in Scotland, by 2018, more than 80,000 disabled people in Scotland will lose some or all of the help with mobility costs they were previously entitled to.
Inclusion Scotland reports that disabled people in some areas of Scotland are waiting for up to 10 months to access Personal Independent Payment disability benefits, due to delays in assessments taking place. Director of policy at Inclusion Scotland, Bill Scott, stated: ‘The UN have notified us they will be visiting Britain to investigate and want to meet with us when they come, sometime in the next few months.
‘It is the cumulative impact that is so serious, because the government seems to have assumed that different disabled people would be affected by different cuts – but that is not the case. ‘There are a lot of individuals who are affected by three, four, five – sometimes six or seven different benefit cuts.’
It has been estimated that most families with disabled children will lose around £1,500 a year as a result of changes to child tax credits under the new Universal Credit system.