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Our New Disability Policy

October 6, 2017 5:54 PM
By Kirsten Johnson in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

DisabledHave you heard about the Disabled Children's Partnership? It was launched over the summer by a large group of charities, including Mencap, Contact and The Children's Trust. The network now links more than fifty organisations who support children with a range of conditions, from the Fragile X Society and the Down's Syndrome Association to Young Lives with Cancer CLIC Sargent and the Myotonic Dystrophy Support Group.

So how do the Disabled Children's Partnership priorities tally with our new party disability policy? (Did you know we had a new policy? Passed at conference last month and available here.)

The Disabled Children's Partnership are campaigning for better health and social care for disabled children and young people in England (health and social care are devolved powers in Scotland and Wales). They will release their manifesto later this autumn, but the four areas of concern with which they launched their awareness-raising campaign The Secret Life of Us are lack of services, poor quality of existing services, difficulties in accessing services, and services not working together and communicating with each other.

Our excellent new Lib Dem policy notes at the start that,

  • In August 2017 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) Committee found that the UK Government's cuts to social security and other support for deaf and disabled people had caused "a human catastrophe" which was "totally neglecting the vulnerable situation that people with disabilities find themselves in.

  • and

  • The United Kingdom Independent Mechanism (UKIM), covering all four of the UK Equality and Human Rights bodies, gave evidence to the UN in August 2017 that the government "has failed to realise the rights of disabled people, especially in relation to social security reforms, resulting in grave and systematic violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, right to social protection, right to independent living and right to work.

Our policy sets out the framework, which tallies with the Disabled Children's Partnership ethos, that we believe

  • In a social model of disability, considering that people may have a condition or an impairment but are disabled by society, and we must therefore remove the barriers in society that limit deaf and disabled people's opportunities and choices.

Lib Dem disability policy actions are calling for:

  • Liberal Democrats across the UK to fight for the rights of deaf and disabled people in every sphere of their lives, and hold Governments and agencies to account.

  • The UK Government urgently to review its policies, to take immediate steps to remedy those highlighted by the UN and the Lords Select Committee report as failing, and to report back within 12 months.

I am so pleased that we are leading the way with this new disability policy. Read it in full when you have time. It is policy like this which will make health and social care systems work for our children and young people who live with disability. Disability might affect children and young people, but they should have full access to joined-up health and social care services which support them in leading their lives to the full. Fairness, equality, opportunity, that's what we stand for.