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UN calls for UK benefit cuts to be reversed

Once again, UN experts have expressed serious concern about the impact of austerity measures imposed by the UK government. In its concluding remarks, the UN Committee scrutinizing the UK under the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights questioned why the government has made no attempt to carry out a "comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impact" on the rights of Disabled people and other groups and called for the benefit cuts that came in through the 2012 and 2016 welfare reform acts to be reversed. The Committee also reflected Disabled people's key concerns over the repealing of the Human Rights Act, the disproportionate impact of austerity measures and the impact of changes to social security and the legal aid system as well as the need for greater investment in mental health services.

Inclusion London fed into the ICESCR scrutiny process via the Just Fair consortium. A copy of our submission can be found at: https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/facts-and-information/equality-and-human-rights/uk-complying-international-convention/

Whilst we are delighted that the Committee has publicly expressed such serious concern about what is happening to Disabled people in this country as a direct result of regressive policy-making and austerity, we are not holding our breath on a change of direction from the government in response. In a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability, when questioned about the Committee's findings, Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson responded that the report was "historical" and government is "already doing" many of the Committee's recommendations.

The Committee's report comes on the back of the UK becoming the first state to be investigated for "grave and systematic" abuses of Disabled people's rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). That investigation, which took place in October 2015, was shrouded in secrecy and the findings will only be made public if the UK government chooses to publish them.

While we await the government's response to this latest UN report, it is important that Disabled people continue to actively campaign for our rights to be upheld and build on the increased public awareness of the impact of benefit cuts following media attention surrounding the planned cuts to PIP and the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith earlier this year. For information about the forthcoming national day of action on PIP and how to get involved called by Disabled People Against Cuts, Winvisible and Mental Health Resistance Network go to: http://dpac.uk.net/2016/06/pip-fightback-national-day-of-action-against-pip-13th-july-pipfightback/