Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions

The WOWpetition called for 

"A New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions". 

What exactly does that mean? To start off with it means different things to different people depending upon their perspective.

One of my key "hot buttons" is providing the framework for disabled people to "play" as fuller part in life and society as they are able to or able to want to. This Government (and to an extent the previous New Labour administration) has based its entire strategy for dealing with everything on the mantra that work sets you free. In fact, one of the key ConDem messages was that too many sick and disabled people were "parked on benefits" by the previous administration, so we are going to enrich their lives and find them all meaningful work.

The Government started off in 1995 with the Personal Capability Assessment. We then moved onto the Work Capability Assessment from 2007 onwards. This reinforced the mantra that to be worthwhile you have to work. What it never seemed to consider was did the opportunities to work exist in the free market?

Since my accident I have never held a job for significantly longer than 2 years. During that time I have never been terminated with cause. Generally I have been "let go" although I have negotiated settlements with PwC and Cognos. Significantly, in order to achieve senior jobs I have had to hide my disability. I have never come across a company that values or wants disabled staff working for them. I'm sure they must exist but I am yet to find one. 

So what is my problem? I wish I knew exactly! I can only speculate. I suffered frontal lobe damage to my brain in 1991 following a car crash. Headway, the Brain Injury Association states that executive dysfunction is common following frontal lobe brain injury and have produced a factsheet, Executive Dysfunction.

I believe the symptoms of Executive Dysfunction that occasionally affect me materially are:
Mood disturbances
  • Difficulty in controlling emotions when under what I perceive as a personal attack, which may lead to outbursts of emotion such as anger.
  • Rapid mood changes may occur. For example, switching from anger to happiness for no apparent reason.
Difficulties in
social
situations
  • Reduced ability to engage in social interactions.
  • Finding it hard to initiate, participate in, or pay attention to conversations.
  • Poor judgement in social situations, which may lead to saying or doing inappropriate things.
Difficulties with
memory and
attention
  • Decreased memory for past or current events, which may lead to disorientation.
This marks me out as different. I would ask you to consider whether the above dysfunctions would preclude me from senior level finance positions. In fact, would it preclude me from most paid employment, with reasonable adjustments? Being different is rarely an advantage!

These to me are all "soft skills" and reasonable adjustments can be found, but in my defence I am an accountant!

However, I'll ask the question in a slightly different way? Do you think employers will rush to employ people displaying the above forms of executive dysfunction. I accept there are some enlightened employers, or specifically one individual, which is what in part allowed me to get to be CFO of a billion dollar company in Abu Dhabi but the financial crisis of 2008 appears to have changed that. Why should employers take a chance on "damaged goods" when there is a surplus of available qualified talent in the market place.

The question I pose is, will leaving it to the free market to decide whether to employ disabled, different people, produce the kind of society we promote in public? Why would the free market actively seek to provide equality of opportunity to all?

In "The Wealth of Nations (1776)", Adam Smith proposed that when the "Invisible Hand", or the law of supply and demand, operates,  people act in their own self-interest and that through this society benefits. However, crucially he caveated this by conceding that whilst individuals should be able to determine what to produce and consume, it is in our self-interest to have laws that protect consumers from being treated unfairly.

Here we come back to public opinion. Is it in the self-interest of the majority to protect disabled people and provide them with true equality of opportunity? Now do you understand why the ConDem government had to demonise disabled people and label them all benefit scroungers? We now have a free market where disabled people do not count.

This is important because the whole direction of efforts to get disabled people into jobs, let alone satisfying appropriate jobs, is based around convincing society that disabled people are worthwhile and should be given a chance. That is what the Government's Disability Confident initiative is about -

"A workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves, and the community in which it is based, is good for business."

Why not force the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace, and through them being there they can demonstrate their worth? Can anybody honestly say the current strategy is working?

The Office for Disability Issues says:

  • According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.  In 2012, 46.3 per cent of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4  per cent of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate.


So it all sounds positive? Try now?

  • There is a 30.1% gap between the numbers of working age disabled and non-disabled people in employment. What does that suggest to you? Substitute the word "black" for "disabled". Does it read differently now? Don't forget, these are all people that have been found fit for work so any allowance you are making in your head for these people not being as capable as their non-disabled counterparts is illegal discrimination
  • Under  previous Government's this gap reduced by 10% up until the year the ConDems came to power, but we've managed to stop that . In fact, we're surprised that our policies haven't managed to reverse this trend given the economic climate.


I have spoken to many people on this subject and the underlying assumption has been in every case that the free market will provide appropriate employment for disabled people. I ask everybody that has assumed that to be true where is the evidence of that? Is it in the same place as the evidence supporting the use of the biopsychosocial model of disability? Where is the self-interest for the free market to provide equality of opportunity?

If we are serious about equality of opportunity and inclusion then let's do something serious about delivering that. Why would we want to leave something as fundamental and important as this to the "free markets" who took us to the precipice in 2008?

What does a New Deal for Sick and Disabled People mean to you?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Draft Guest Blog on how you can help WOW now!

The WOW Debate Is A Go - Now We Need Your Help Again!
image
December 12th, 2013 was, for many of us, a small moment of celebration as the WOW Petition ended with over 104,000 signatures and triggered the eligibility for consideration by the Back Bench Business Committee (BBBC).  After a year of cajolling, persuading, writing to MPs, campaign groups, charities, anti austerity groups, and many others it had all paid off and, for at least a moment, we could relax and realise that we had completed the first part of what we had set out to achieve.
Now, of course, the hard part comes.
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, graciously agreed to present the WOW Petition to the BBBC, which he did on December 14th and, with his and others support, managed to secure in principle a full debate on the WOW Petition in the House of Commons in the New Year, at a date yet to be decided.
And this is, once again, where we need your help.
For us to have any chance of success whatsoever, we must persuade MPs of our case and get them to support what we are trying to achieve.  That’s no easy task, but it is vital that we try and this is how you can help us.
Write to your MP
We need the support of as many MPs as possible going into this debate and to do this we must persuade them.  So please, write to your local MP (you can find the details of your MP here).  We’ve supplied a couple of template lettershere and our friend Jules Clarke has also written his suggestions on his ownblog.  
My advice would be to do as much or as little as you feel able to and comfortable with - if a cut-and-paste letter is preferable for you, then please use one of them.  If, like myself, you wish to make it more personal, then by all means please do.  We have included briefing notes on the earlier blog so please use them too if you so wish.  For me, I will be writing a shorter letter and then arranging to meet with my MP to discuss it in more detail, but that’s what I’m comfortable with.
Continue to Spread The Word
Whilst signatures may now be closed, every little bit of support can still make a difference to the campaign.  By promoting us on Facebook and Twitter - we’ll be using the hashtag #WOWdebate2014 in the run up to the actual day - we can show how much support there is out there.  Let family and friends know about what we’re doing and how they can help us.  
Other Suggestions?
Let us know!  I’m sure there’s ideas we haven’t thought of - we’re only human, after all - so please feel free to get in touch with us.  We’re on the above links or you can email us at info@wowpetition.com
To all of our supporters - thankyou for everything you’ve done to get us this far and we look forward to a successful 2014.  Happy New Year to you all.


--
WOW Campaign Team Member - Learn more at www.wowpetition.com
Folllow me on Twitter @crazybladeuk and view my Blog

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

WOWpetition - Contact your MP - We need your help.

Today at the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee John McDonnell MP, Ian Mearns MP and Ian Lavery MP secured a backbench business committee debate of the WOWpetition.

Huzzah

The issue is that the debate may either be held in Westminster Hall or the Main Chamber of Parliament and the key factor in this decision is the amount of cross party support that the WOWpetition receives.

Therefore, WOW needs you. (if you need to identify who your MP is and how to contact him use http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ ?)

Please contact your MP by e-mail, letter or phone before next Tuesday and ask him to support a Main Chamber debate on the important issues contained in the WOWpetition (e-petition 43154).

You are not asking your MP to support the WOWpetition but instead asking him to recognise that the important issues it addresses are deserving of a full debate in the Main Chamber.

We have secured a Backbench Business Committee debate of the WOWpetition. Lets make sure it is a full debate in the Main Chamber.

If you wish to contact your MP and discuss the WOWpetition in his surgery we have prepared a briefing document you can base your discussion around. Please do not copy and paste this in it's entirerity into an e-mail to your MP as it is likely to be intercepted by the spam filters and disappear into the Ethernet. It is best to either print it off and use it as the basis for a face to face discussion with him or use it to harvest ideas for your own individual message to your MP.

======================================================================

WOWpetition Briefing on the Need for a Backbench Business Committee Debate of e-petition 43154.


On Saturday 30th November 2013 Government e-petition 43154, also known as the WOWpetition, was signed for the 100,000 time and qualifies to be considered for a debate by the Back Bench Business Committee. John McDonnell MP has agreed to make representations to the Backbench Business Committee in support of a debate of the WOWpetition.

The WOWpetition calls for

1.     A Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.

The response received from the DWP upon the WOWpetition reaching 10,000 signatures, stated that the Government had not done a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the effects of the Welfare Reform Bill 2012 because “it is very difficult to do accurately and external organisations have not produced this either.” However, since posting this response, 2 external agencies, “DEMOS” and the “Centre for Welfare Reform” have separately produced relevant CIA’s.
DEMOS’s analysis showed a cumulative loss of income for disabled people of £28.3 billion over the 5 years to 2018. Referring to this analysis, Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said: “At the moment there’s no place for disabled people in the Chancellor’s aspiration nation. In 2013 disabled people are already struggling to pay the bills. Living costs are spiralling. Income is flat-lining. We know many are getting in debt, just to pay for essentials. What’s the Government’s response?  The same group of disabled people face not just one or two cuts to their support, but in some cases three, four, five or even six cuts. It paints a frightening picture of the financial struggles affecting disabled people in 2013. On top of this the Government is suggesting capping the welfare bill in the June spending review – having already slashed billions.”
Dr Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform, on behalf of the Campaign for a Fair Society, produced analysis that suggested the cuts to benefits and services fell disproportionately on minority groups. The extreme unfairness of this policy is demonstrated if we compare the burden of cuts born annually by most citizens (£467 per person) to the burden on people in poverty (£2,195: 5 x rest of population), the burden on disabled people (£4,410: 9 x rest of population) and the Burden on people with severest disabilities (£8,832: 19 x rest of population).
We believe that the Government either needs to demonstrate that the CIA’s produced are not accurate and produce its own CIA or explain why the austerity measures have been targeted at people, who WOWpetition believe, the Government thought would not fight back.

2.     An immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association. Consultation between the Depts of Health & Education to improve support into work for sick & disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

The Work Capability Assessment judges the Capability for work or work related activity of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants. We believe the current test is totally discredited, with the Prime Minister saying in October 2013 that its provider, Atos, had "to improve the quality of decision-making" in the face of sustained criticism of both the efficacy and effectiveness of what, WOWpetition believe, is not a tool meant to enable disabled people and help them to achieve what they feel capable of but instead a blunt instrument to reduce the social security bill. We do not believe it is right that in the 21st Century an experimental process has been imposed on sick and disabled people with in some cases fatal consequences. Over 10,000 people have died within 6 weeks of being compelled to submit to what has been described as a “dehumanizing, brutal and aggressive quasi-medical assessment”.
WOWpetition believes that any method for assessing the financial support given, and the life opportunities presented to sick and disabled people needs to be based upon 3 questions: “What do you want to do?” “What stops you from doing that?” “What adjustments can be made to enable you?” Any process that seeks to enable disabled people and give them equality of opportunity, needs to address not just the “supply side” issues of “what can you do” but also needs to address “demand side” prejudices and ensure society provides the opportunities to people facing significant barriers to mainstream employment opportunities, in a fair way that gives people with impairments equality of opportunity. Additionally, any individual trying to enhance their experience should not be penalised/ restricted, as they already face difficulty with employment.
More than anything, WOWpetition wants a system based upon trust. The evidence clearly shows that at approximately 0.7%, Benefit fraud is non-systemic and the overwhelming feeling of grassroots Disabled Peoples Organisation’s, expressed at a summit organised by WOWpetition in London on the 25th October 2013, was that sick and disabled people are sick of being treated as guilty until proven innocent and that the system needs to embody trust, not persecution.
Irrespective of their ability to work, sick & disabled people should be able to rely upon financial support from society that would allow them to experience a good standard of living.

3.     An Independent, Committee-Based Inquiry into Welfare Reform, covering but not limited to: (1) Care home admission rises, Daycare Centre’s, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures; (2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit; (3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths & the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP & the Tribunal Service.

WOWpetition cannot understand how in the Worlds 6th richest country (by GDP – IMF 2012) the situation can have been allowed to occur where, despite the UK ratifying the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, what is arguably “retrogressive legislation” has been introduced, without being effectively challenged pre-implementation.
At its AGM on April 14 2013, Amnesty International UK passed a resolution on the Human Rights of sick and disabled people in the UK. The resolution (A5) read:
“This AGM calls for urgent action to halt the abrogation of the human rights of sick and disabled people by the ruling Coalition government and its associated corporate contractors.”
It is WOWpetition’s belief that The WRA 2012 was “rushed” through Parliament with the House of Commons using the procedural tool of “financial privilege” to curtail debate and over-turn the amendments tabled by the House of Lords. We believe The House of Lords had taken very relevant advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with the effect that the Human Rights and Equality issues pertinent to the WRA 2012 have been largely ignored. Some overlooked amendments have since been the subject of successful legal challenges, and the Minister for Disabled People has been criticized in open court for failing to consider the effect her policies have on equality of opportunity.
WOWpetition call for the UK to comply with the spirit of its Treaty Obligations and, in line with “Article 4 – General Obligations” of the UNCRPD, strive to achieve full realization of the rights so included in that document without prejudice. As an example of what we would argue is the non-compliance of the UK with this Treaty, we are dismayed that an apparent working definition of “Equality of Opportunity” appears to be, that employers may choose to favour a disabled candidate over a non-disabled candidate. This, we believe, is not what was intended by “Article 3 – General Principles” of the UNCRPD.
 In order for lessons to be learnt and safeguards put in place to ensure persons with disabilities are never again to face what we believe is a coordinated onslaught on our human rights and right to life, we call for an independent Committee based enquiry into Welfare Reform.
Most worrying are the comments attributed to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson on Nov 28th 2013, in which he says “It is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130.”
Is a person’s worth or right of equality to be linked to his measured IQ? Is economic potential the accepted measure of somebody’s value and equality? This comment is not acceptable.

Conclusion

WOWpetition suggests that sick and disabled people are the target of a sustained attack on their human rights and standard of living as it is believed they will not fight back. We agree with Richard Hawkes of Scope who said “At the moment there’s no place for disabled people in the Chancellor’s aspiration nation.” WOWpetition seeks a society where disabled people (through birth, trauma or illness) are given true equality of opportunity and valued appropriately, based upon their intrinsic humanity.
On the 10th July 2013 an Opposition Day Debate on “Disabled people” called for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the changes made by Government that affect disabled people. We argue that the debate called for by the WOWpetition is significantly different to this debate, based on:
·         Following this debate, two independent organisations have done what is “very difficult to do accurately” and produced Cumulative Impact Assessments.  These demonstrate how this government’s austerity measures have unfairly targeted sick and disabled people. The House needs to debate why disabled people are seen as easy targets by this government or the DWP needs to challenge the findings.
·         It is widely reported that both the new Universal Credit Payment (UC) and the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are in trouble. WOWpetition believe the UK government should take the time to carefully consider the effect the transition to these potentially flawed procedures would have on sick and disabled people and if it is prepared to inflict more excess deaths on these communities.
·         Paul Maynard MP, who referred to WOWpetition as “extremists” using the protection of Parliamentary Privilege, made reference in this Opposition Day Debate to the DWP publication “Fulfilling Potential – The Next Steps” and implied it was a remedy for the exclusion and barriers to society facing disabled people. WOWPetition believes this document is flawed and based upon Esther McVey’s inability to distinguish between the Social Model of Disability and the Bio-psychosocial Model of Disability which, we believe, she seems to think are the same thing. This document should be debated in conjunction with relevant meaningful published statistics to identify whether it really is a tool in leading to meaningful Equality of Opportunity for sick and disabled people and how long it is to be before sick and disabled are given this meaningful Equality of Opportunity, defined appropriately. This is a requirement under “Article 3 – The General Principles” of the “UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities“.
As outlined earlier, WOWpetition calls for much more than a Cumulative Impact Assessment and to refuse a debate dismisses and trivializes the other very real concerns of the Sick and Disabled Community.

WOWpetition therefore ask you to support a Backbench Business Committee debate of their e-petition 43154 and engage with our plea for a New Deal for Sick and Disabled People based upon their needs, abilities and ambitions.

Monday, 25 November 2013

E-mail to Paul Maynard re a Cumulative Impact Assessment

I am posting this on my Blog as I do not have Paul Maynard MPs e-mail address. It was cc'd to my MP, The Right Honourable Theresa May MP.


WOWpetition
1 minute ago 2:17 PM
From
To


Dear Mr Maynard,

I am writing to formally apologise to you as it seems likely that the wowpetition.com will achieve the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a backbench business committee debate on its contents which include a request for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

I realise you will find it tiresome to again have to debate the effect legislation you voted for is having on sick and disabled people in this country, who are having to pay, in some cases, 9 times more (according to Dr Simon Duffy, Centre for Welfare Reform) to fix the banks than non-disabled people. However, whilst your conscience may trouble you I trust you will attend this debate when it happens, so you can take the opportunity to publicly apologise for calling all those associated with the WOWpetition (including myself) "extremists", which you did during the Opposition Day Debate of "Pat's Petition" on Wednesday, 10th July 2013. I have asked my MP, Theresa May to obtain a formal public apology on my behalf, but she has refused, saying it is a matter for you. If you refuse to publicly apologise in the Houses of Parliament to me and the other WOWpetition campaigners we will approach the Speaker of the House to see if we have any other options in our pursuit of justice due to your use of language better suited to the "playground".

I hope that before the debate of the WOWpetition you take time and reflect as to why your views are apparently out of sync with many disabled people in this country and consider whether that is due to your privilege? You have stated that you did not go into Parliament to represent disabled people. I am not quite sure why you appear to be using your position to punish them?

Yours sincerely,


Ian M Jones


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Ongoing Correspondence with the EHRC - Who cares about my Human Rights?

3. My response to the EHRC's response.


Dear Mr Hammond,

Your reference - NS184

Thank you very much for your reply to my e-mail of the 2nd October 2013. I would like to take you up on your offer of further consultation made in the final paragraph of your response.

I feel very frustrated by the continued statement of the position that the EHRC is not a campaigning body. It was particularly puzzling in this case when you continue in the same sentence to point out the EHRC's responsibility to promote and where it can ensure the harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with CRPD. Having double checked with more than one source as to the degree of shared meaning in these 2 words I will in future use the word "promote" where I would in the my normal use of language use the word "campaign". 

It would be very useful if you could point me towards the current report that details: 
  1. Which UK Laws comply with the CRPD.
  2. Which UK Laws are being harmonised with the CRPD in the next year.
  3. Which UK Laws are being harmonised with the CRPD in over a years time.
  4. Which UK Laws will not be harmonised with the CRPD.

I would like to ask what timescale has been accepted by the EHRC before compliance with Article 4 of the CRPD, The General Obligations under this convention, is required. How many expected extra deaths have been accepted by the EHRC due to any delay in full implementation of the CRPD?

My response, which I have widely consulted on, is as follows.

1. I feel that "promoting" an issue is a very subjective activity, as the process involves a high level of personal judgement in deciding what to do and how to do that. It is with this point in mind that I suggested that Lord Holmes, a Conservative Peer, has a significant conflict of interest when it comes to fulfilling his role. I fail to see how it could be possible for a Disability Commissioner not to have a significant influence over the activities of the EHRC. He is a Board member of the EHRC with input into the EHRC's strategic direction towards Disabled People and has taken a political position on his elevation to the House of Lords. How many times has he declared a conflict of interest and withdrawn from discussions and votes? 
Where the organisational structure creates the perception that a Conflict of Interest might occur I would expect a public body such as you to immediately remove the danger of that apparent or perceived conflict being crystallized. How have the EHRC done that? I believe that as we live in unprecedented times where a Minister of Her Majesty's Government has repeatedly demonized sick and disabled people, radical action is needed on your part to protect your independence and objectivity.
It has been suggested to me that I am proposing the exclusion from holding office at the EHRC of anybody with a declared political affiliation. I would be intrigued to hear your view on this and whether politics and human rights mix? I personally believe Human Rights are an absolute and Politics is about making choices but I await your views with interest.

2. The UNCRPD was ratified by the UK Government in 2009. You state that you are now gathering intelligence to identify key issues supported by evidence. To me that appears to be 4 years after the event and too late for the 10,000+ people that have died within 6 weeks of being made to submit to a work capability assessment. Surely these key issues should have been identified before ratification of the CRPD and I am dismayed to see that you do not see Equality of Opportunity as a key issue. Without that, in my opinion, disabled people remain in their current role as "pets" and without that you are accepting discrimination against disabled because they are "different". I am awaiting confirmation from the UN as to how they define Equality of Opportunity.
It is my personal opinion that 4 years into the process, in my opinion, you should be preparing to report to the UN how you have closed the compliance gap and how close the UK is to being fully compliant? If the human rights of disabled people can be said to converge with the rights afforded in the CRPD who took the decision to deny disabled people their human rights as outlined in the CRPD when it was ratified in 2009? Why have you not acted sooner to protect life? In my opinion the "Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons" enshrined by the CRPD has been eroded by the Governments Welfare Reform Act 2012 and I remind you that the Government used the procedure of claiming "financial privilege" to "steamroller" the sensible concerns of the House of Lords. The "Bedroom Tax" is arguably an attack on the individual autonomy of the UK's sick and disabled population so I presume you have taken prompt action to investigate and if necessary ensure the UN are aware that the UK are in breach of its obligations under the CRPD? The flawed Work Capability Assessment arguably shows no respect for individual peoples dignity so again I presume you have taken  prompt action to investigate and if necessary ensure the UN are aware that the UK are in breach of its obligations under the CRPD? The new upper rate mobility criteria of "Can stand and then move unaided more than 20m" will, I believe, leave the UK in breach of its obligations under general principles of the CRPD, specifically: a. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, independence of persons - are you planning to wait until people take desperate action following the loss of their independence before you take any action? 
I could go on. I ask again, as you did not address this in my initial letter, do you agree with Amnesty International UK who recognised that the Human Rights of Sick and Disabled People are being abrogated by the UK Government?

3. I will start by pointing out your duty to promote the CRPD. I will also reinforce my dissatisfaction with your tactic of actively intervening only after Human Rights have been violated. Unfortunately the links provided in your response are largely broken so I am unable to read at the moment (can you please check the links you gave external to your own website?) but again they seem to, in the main, relate to instances where you are offering guidance on interpretation of the law or instances where the UK Law has been challenged in court. Again, I strongly argue this is too late. I believe that unless the EHRC act strongly and urgently to neutralise bad and dangerous laws that could be used to deprive citizens of their Human Rights, people will continue to die. Have you done a risk assessment of your viable strategic options to identify which strategy is likely to facilitate the minimum loss of life?

4. Sadly you failed to acknowledge the 10,000 + deaths I referred to or the position of Amnesty International UK. Perhaps you would be kind enough to do so? Failure to do so suggests to me you have no concern about the human rights of sick and disabled people. 

It has been pointed out to me that the EHRC is limited in what it can do. I would be happy to discuss that with you in detail but I do not accept that position. The UK seems to have a lot to say about alleged Human Rights abuses committed by other countries. 10,000 deaths whilst being subjected to unreasonable mental strain in my opinion is a human rights abuse, but the EHRC is quiet on that? Somebody has to stand up for what is right and what is fair. I am saddened that this does not appear to be one of the roles of the EHRC.

In conclusion, it appears to me that your strategy of making strategic interventions after the event is flawed. By allowing, without significant protest or legal challenge, the UK Government to introduce laws that when exercised tend to deny Human Rights to the UK population, you seem to be accepting that the only way you can protect Human Rights is after they have been violated.

Do you not agree that is too late?


Yours sincerely,


Ian M Jones



2. The EHRC's response to my initial query.


Sent by Email

Our Ref: NS184


29 October 2013

Dear Mr Jones,

Subject: Response to Email Dated 02.10.13

Thank you for your email of the 02 October 2013, in which you raise your concerns about:

1.   The continuing involvement of Lord Holmes as a Commissioner.
2.   The Commission’s role in monitoring UNCRPD.
3.   The Commission’s failure to campaign for the UNCRPD to be incorporated into UK Law
4.   The Commission’s work and perception of Work capability Assessment.


1. As a severely head injured disabled person I would like to protest in the strongest terms about the continuing involvement of Lord Holmes as Disability Commissioner. I believe it totally improper for anybody with a political allegiance to be in this position. Your treatment of disabled people may well be prejudiced by any political bias your disability commissioner displays.

The Code of Conduct requires that Commissioners will provide knowledgeable, impartial and balanced perspectives on a range of sensitive and complex issues and will comply with the Board’s rules handling conflicts of interest.  It also includes the requirement “not use information gained in the course of their public service to promote their private interests, or those of connected persons, firms, businesses or other organisations”.

Commissioners who are peers are also covered by the Addison Rules, which state:


When issues affecting the EHRC arise in Parliament, the present Minister and Government of the day generally are alone responsible to Parliament.  This means that the Commission cannot use the peer to influence Parliament, other than through the formally recognised channels.

Equally, as laid out in the Statutes, Boards are free to conduct their day to day administration without the intervention of Parliament or Ministers, except where otherwise provided. If Commissioners were to divulge the day to day operations of the Commission, then they would be in breach of this the Statutes.

There is no duty on the Commissioner to answer questions put to him during debate in Parliament, which means that the Commissioner can abstain from a Parliamentary or Commission discussion if the following should arise:

a.   A ‘conflict of interest’: involves a conflict between the public duty and private interests of a public appointee, in which the public appointee has private-capacity interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.

b.   An apparent or perceived conflict of interest:  Where it appears that a public official’s private interests could improperly influence the performance of their duties but this is not in fact the case.

c.   A potential conflict of interest: arises where a public official has private interests which are such that a conflict of interest would arise if the official were to become involved in relevant (i.e. conflicting) official responsibilities in the future.

In considering whether a conflict of interest may exist, the Commission would consider: “Does the issue create (whether actual or perceived by a fair-minded person) an incentive for the member to act in a way that may not be in the best interests of the Commission?”

However, it should be noted that the identification of a ‘conflict of interest’ does not mean that corruption or some other abuse of public office has or will occur.

In the majority of cases, a declaration of interest, and abstaining from the issue at hand would be considered sufficient, unless it was felt that the frequency, at which the Commissioner had to abstain from discussions or decisions, significantly impaired their ability to fulfil their role.

The Commission’s Governance Framework is available on the Commission’s website at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/about-us/governance/


2. The UNCRPD has been marginalised by not being written into UK Law. The UN have had to send in a Special Rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik to point out problems with the bedroom tax (66% of those affected by it have a disabled family member) but I haven't heard any comment from Lord Holmes or the EHRC on this subject. It appears to me the UN are having to monitor the implementation of the UNCRPD because Lord Holmes is refusing to! Do you have any comment on this?

The Commission is active in monitoring the harmonisation and implementation of English and Welsh (and GB wide) law and policy with CRPD, and does this separately and independently of the UN who also have the duty to monitor the convention through the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accordingly, we are gathering intelligence from a wide range of academic, statistical and legal sources and asking the views of disabled people and their organisations so we can identify key issues, supported by a strong evidence base. This is so we can compile a list of issues with our partners in the UK Independent Monitoring mechanism of CRPD (these are the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission) to put to the UN Committee when it commences its examination of the UK in 2014.

Also we seek to harmonise domestic law and policy with CRPD. To give some recent examples, the Commission has intervened in several strategic judicial reviews arguing that the CRPD should be used as a tool for applying the Public Sector Equality Duty, when there may be adverse impacts on disabled people. These judicial reviews concerned the closure of the Independent Living Fund and changes to housing benefit (for example ‘the spare room subsidy’ in the case of R v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions). These cases are now subject to appeal.

We also pay regard to CRPD in our response to government consultations, most recently on Personal Independence Payments and legal aid reform and will do so in our forthcoming work on the Children and Families Bill.

We met with and discussed these issues with the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as we do with all rapporteurs who visit the UK, as part of our role as a national human rights institution. It is important to stress that, as the UN clarified; she visited the UK on the basis of a standing invitation from the UK government in order to discuss a range of housing-related issues in the UK.
3. Why are you not campaigning for the UNCRPD to be incorporated into UK law in the way the ECHR is? I believe Scope will be doing just this!

The Commission is not a campaigning body but it has the responsibility to promote and, where it can, ensure the harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with CRPD and their effective implementation. Therefore we:

·        Make strategic legal interventions, for example in the judicial reviews referred to above.

·        Are continuing our ambitious follow up programme to the Homecare and Disability Harassment Inquiries (e.g. by putting on a major training event for Homecare providers to ensure that human rights are integrated in frontline practice and publishing guidance for providers and commissioners).

·        Respond to government consultations with evidence-based policies that reflect CRPD.

To get a better idea of the work that we continue to do, you may like to explore the following links, which touch on some of our CRPD-related activities:



·        “Out in the Open: a Manifesto for Change”, the follow up report to the EHRC’s Disability Harassment Inquiry with revised recommendations: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/disabilityfi/out_in_the_open_dhi_manifesto.pdf

·        Bracking et al v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions re abolition of Independent Living Fund (welfare reform): http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2013/march/commission-intervenes-in-judicial-review-of-abolition-of-the-independent-living-fund/

·        MA et al v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions re changes to housing benefit – now under appeal: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2013/may/commission-intervenes-in-judicial-review-of-new-housing-benefit-regulations/


You may also be interested to know that the Parliamentary Joint Commission on Human Rights discussed the legal status of the UNCRPD in their report “The Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living” published in July 2012. The report can be found at:


The Commission’s written evidence submitted to the Joint Committee can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/joint-committees/human-rights/Independent_Living_Written_Evidence_4.pdf pages 339 - 350.

4/ 10,000+ people have died within 6 weeks of being subjected to a work capability assessment. Don't you care? Surely their human rights are being abused by this government! Amnesty International agreed at their AGM this year that the human rights of disabled people in the UK are being abrogated. Do you disagree with them?

In addition to responding to Government consultation on Work Capability Assessment, we have also supported cases that address a failure to consider reasonable adjustment / access in relation to the benefits assessment process, for instance regarding the Government’s introduction of size criteria (under-occupancy) for working age Housing Benefit claimants living in the social rented sector and also the Independent Living Fund. The Commission agreed to intervene in the case of R v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the unsuccessful judicial review challenge to criteria introduced by the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012.

I hope this answers your questions.  If you have any further concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to consult us again.

Yours sincerely,


Mark Hammond
Chief Executive

Equality and Human Rights Commission



1. My Initial Query


From: Ian Jones <ian8jones@me.com>
Date: 2 October 2013 15:07:21 BST
To: "complaints@equalityhumanrights.com" <complaints@equalityhumanrights.com>
Cc:
Subject: Political Bias Within EHRC
Dear sirs,

I would like to make the following observations.

1/ As a severely head injured disabled person I would like to protest in the strongest terms about the continuing involvement of Lord Holmes as Disability Commissioner. I believe it totally improper for anybody with a political allegiance to be in this position. Your treatment of disabled people may well be prejudiced by any political bias your disability commissioner displays,

2/ The UNCRPD has been marginalised by not being written into UK Law. The UN have had to send in a Special Rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik to point out problems with the bedroom tax (66% of those affected by it have a disabled family member) but I haven't heard any comment from Lord Holmes or the EHRC on this subject. It appears to me the UN are having to monitor the implementation of the UNCRPD because Lord Holmes is refusing to! Do you have any comment on this?

3/ Why are you not campaigning for the UNCRPD to be incorporated into UK law in the way the ECHR is? I believe Scope will be doing just this !

4/ 10,000+ people have died within 6 weeks of being subjected to a work capability assessment. Don't you care? Surely their human rights are being abused by this government! Amnesty International agreed at their AGM this year that the human rights of disabled people in the UK are being abrogated. Do you disagree with them?

I believe it likely that possible political influence being exerted over the EHRC will lead to you becoming nothing more than a lapdog of the government.

Please answer my queries above and explain whether your organisation has the political will to resist being shut up and controlled by the government like the UKDPC and DRUK have been!

Yours sincerely,

Ian M Jones