The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued a stark warning about the consequences of ongoing inaction by the UK government in addressing the challenges faced by disabled individuals. In a recent report presented to the United Nations (UN), the EHRC highlights that many disabled people in the UK continue to experience discrimination, and the situation is deteriorating, especially given the current economic pressures.
Produced in collaboration with other equality bodies and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in Britain and Northern Ireland, this report follows a 2016 UN inquiry into the state of rights for disabled individuals in the UK. Following this inquiry, the UN issued a list of 11 recommendations to safeguard the rights of disabled people. This inquiry was held under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (CRPD) Optional Protocol.
The latest report evaluates the extent to which the previous UN recommendations have been implemented. It shows that, despite limited or some progress in certain areas, there has been no progress against some other recommendations. While commitments to address some issues have been made, actions have been delayed or don’t go far enough.
As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, many of the 2016 recommendations are even more relevant now. In 2022, more than half of disabled people struggled to pay their energy bills, as the EHRC’s report concludes. Disabled individuals also often face long wait times between applying for and receiving benefits, and they are more likely to use food banks than non-disabled people.
The EHRC has stressed the danger of a continuing failure by the UK and Welsh governments to make necessary reforms, including addressing problems with the welfare system, poor engagement with disabled individuals and their organisations in many parts of the UK, and inadequate public services for disabled people, leaving them at a higher risk of poverty, abuse, and poor health.
Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Alongside other human rights and equality bodies in Britain and Northern Ireland, we urge the governments in London and Cardiff to address the problems faced by disabled individuals and take action to address the UN’s recommendations from 2016. Disabled individuals must be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. The recommendations made years ago must be addressed if the lives of disabled people are to improve.”
The EHRC Report can be found here: