Labour Party Disabled Members Group policy proposals

These proposals come from the Labour Party Disabled Members Group  Policy Forum on 12th April.  They are not yet agreed by anyone.

The Group have arranged two further meetings for Party members who are disabled or have an interest in disability. If you wish to attend please contact Dave Allan

  • Tuesday May 6, 2014 from 6:00pm until 8:00pm in Rooms R and S in Portcullis House, Bridge Street, London SW1A 2LW. Please leave about 20 minutes to clear House of Commons Security. Kate Green MP Shadow Disability Minister will again be in attendance
  • Saturday May 10, 2014 from 12:30pm until 3:30pm at Labour Central Offices, Kings Manor, and Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6PA.  Sharon Hodgson MP Shadow Equalities Minister will attend.

These amendments relate to the Work and Business Policy Consultation

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Disability harassment is a particular problem for disabled people at work, and we will legislate to outlaw bullying and harassment in the workplace, introduce a Dignity at Work Act, and reinstate the third party harassment aspects of the Equality Act 2010 to protect people who are harassed by members of the public while at work.

Labour will introduce:

A statutory right to disability leave to challenge abuse of sickness absence to get rid of disabled workers; extension of the employment provisions of the Equality Act 2010 to protect volunteers to assist disabled people gain experience; restoration of the third party harassment and multiple identity provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and the power of tribunals to make recommendations in order to require employers to change their policies; a review of the operation of the Equality Act 2010 with a view to strengthening it to prevent employer avoidance; a strengthened public sector equality duty and its extension to cover all employers; enshrine the status and rights of workplace equalities representatives in law; a further significant increase in funding for Access to Work and far greater publicity of its availability, to be combined with a programme of promotion to employers and broadening the criteria of what it can fund. Programmes for disabled people are working to a one-size-fits-all approach to disability. A flexible approach is needed individually tailored to the needs of the disabled person.

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The majority of disabled people who are able to work want to do so. There are a number of disabled people whose impairments militate against them carrying out paid employment. This must be recognised. A new test is needed to replace the Work Capability Assessment. This should be based on the social model of disability. It needs to ensure that only suitably qualified persons carry out the assessments. It needs to be able to reflect fluctuating conditions, especially but not only mental health, and other “invisible” impairments. It must also respect evidence from GPs, consultants and other healthcare professionals. The replacement for the work capability assessment should be designed in collaboration with representatives of disabled people’s organisations, and disabled people.

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Labour will ensure there is a non means tested benefit to meet the additional costs faced by disabled people, and place them on a level playing field with non disabled people. Disabled people and organisations representing disabled people will have a role in the process of assessment for the benefit and in evaluating the assessment process. There should be a disabled person on each tribunal considering appeals where award of the benefit has been refused. Atos should not be given any right to carry out the assessment, and should be removed from the existing contract to carry out assessments for the personal independence payment without compensation. The assessment must be accessible, fair and transparent, carried out by NHS workers, must use evidence obtained from GPs, consultants and other healthcare professionals, use existing assessment data held for people’s entitlement to disability living allowance where held, entitle a recipient of DLA automatically to PIP and be carried out once to result in a lifetime award unless the impact of a condition worsens. There should be no cap on the budget for the benefit, so that all disabled people who meet the criteria receive the benefit. Savings from introducing a universal set of assessment criteria to standardise and eliminate continuous and often conflicting assessments and from carrying out once-in-a-lifetime assessments must be reinvested in personal independence payment or in a replacement for PIP.

These amendments relate to the Better Politics Policy Consultation

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as well as promoting positive attitudes to equality issues amongst people of all ages

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A Labour government will recognise the social model of disability in law.

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Many British people use British Sign Language as a first language and recognition is a key issue for inclusion and equality for dead people. Achieving legal status for British Sign Language as a minority language in the UK is essential to achieving this, as is the right of deaf children to be educated in a bilingual and bicultural environment, ensuring access for deaf people to information and services via video relay services, promoting learning and high quality of British Sign language in all schools, and ensuring staff working with deaf people can communicate effectively in BSL. The Labour party will consult with the deaf community on a regular basis.

Disabled people are forced to undergo an array of tests and assessments to determine qualification for benefits, services and credits. Labour will introduce a universal set of criteria to standardise and eliminate continuous and often conflicting assessments. Such a scheme will include qualification for ESA, PIP, Access to Work, tax credits, council care and support packages, Blue Badges, Freedom Passes, Taxi cards etc. There should be a once-only test leading to a lifetime award unless the impact of a condition worsens.