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Tuesday, 03 July 2018

Government's 'hostile environment causing grave violations on disabled people', Labour

Written by Elizabeth Arnold

The Government's policies have created a "hostile environment causing grave violations on disabled people", Labour has claimed.

Minister of State for disabled people, health and work Sarah Newton appealed to Opposition MPs in the Commons to "stop saying things which they know are not true" during a heated exchange with shadow minister for disabled people Marsha de Cordova.

Ms Newton insisted ministers were "very proud to be a world-leading country in supporting people with disabilities to fulfil their potential in society".

Ms de Cordova (pictured) called on the Government to "finally commit" to carrying out a cumulative impact assessment on the Government's social security policies.

Speaking during Commons work and pensions questions, she argued: "We know an impact assessment into the social security policies can be carried out because the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) has done so, so is it not the truth that the Government won't do this because it is afraid that an impact assessment will confirm what the UN says, what the EHRC says and what disabled people say, this Government's policies have created a hostile environment causing grave violations on disabled people?"

Ms Newton responded that it was "simply not the case".

She added: "We have very strong protections for people with disabilities in our country, not least of which is the Equality Act and I make sure that impacts are undertaken on all policies undertaken.

"I honestly ask(ed) all members opposite please do not use this language of hostile environment, it is simply not the case and the very people that need all of our support are put off from seeking it and coming forward and really I would ask them to stop saying things which they know are not true."

Ms de Cordova raised the findings of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adding that it found "grave and systematic violations of disabled people's rights".

She said: "The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities carried out a robust inquiry into the effects of the Government's policies including social security on disabled people.

"It found grave and systematic violations of disabled people's rights.

"The minister very recently said she was utterly committed to the convention, so when the Government responds to the report later this summer, will she finally commit to carrying out a cumulative impact assessment on the Government's policies as recommended by the UN committee?"

Ms Newton replied: "We were very disappointed when the UN came to the UK that they did not take into consideration a great deal of evidence that was provided to them and I'm sure when I make my very full response we can set the record straight so they understand that we are very proud to be a world-leading country in supporting people with disabilities to fulfil their potential in society.

"Of course we're always determined to do more and every time there is any sort of policy change what we do is an equalities impact assessment on every single policy."

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