UK must improve on human rights

UK must improve on human rights

A report from UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published on the 24th June shows that there is room for vast improvement on human rights. The full report is available here.

Here’s what the Committee had to say about:

UNCRPD

“The Committee welcomes the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 8 June 2009 and its Optional Protocol on 7 August 2009.”

British Bill of Rights

“The Committee takes note of the concerns raised by national stakeholders with regard to the announced plan of replacing the Human Rights Act of 1998 by a new British Bill of Rights… The Committee recommends that the State party undertake a broad public consultation on its plan to repeal the Human Rights Act of 1998, as well as on the proposal for a new Bill of Rights. It also recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to ensure that any new legislation in this regard is aimed at enhancing the status of human rights…”

Austerity measures

“The Committee is seriously concerned about the disproportionate adverse impact that austerity measures, introduced since 2010, are having on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups. The Committee is concerned that the State party has not undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impact of such measures…

“The Committee draws the State party’s attention to the recommendations contained in its open letter of 16 May 2012 to States parties on economic, social and cultural rights in the context of the economic and financial crisis, with regard to the criteria for austerity measures. Such measures must be temporary, necessary, proportionate, and not discriminatory and must not disproportionately affect the rights of disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups and respect the core content of rights. In that context, the Committee recommends that the State party review its policies and programmes introduced since 2010 and conduct a comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impact of these measures on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, in particular women, children and persons with disabilities…”

Equality Act 2010

“While welcoming the adoption of the Equality Act 2010, the Committee is concerned that some of its provisions… are not yet into force, such as the duty of public authorities to consider socio-economic disadvantage in decision-making processes… The Committee also regrets that… the Equality Act 2010 is not applicable in Northern Ireland…”

Employment

“The Committee is concerned that, despite the increase in the employment rate, some disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups continue to be disproportionately affected by unemployment, including persons with disabilities… the Committee recommends that the State party review its employment policies to address the root causes for unemployment and include in its action plan time-bound goals…”

Working conditions

“The Committee is concerned at the high incidence of part-time work, precarious self-employment, temporary employment and the use of “zero hour contracts” in the State party, particularly affecting women. It is also concerned about the negative impact that all of those forms of employment have on the enjoyment by workers of their right to just and favourable conditions of work. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about the high number of low-paid jobs.”

Minimum wage

“Despite the increase of the national minimum wage that came into effect on 1 April 2016, the Committee is concerned that it is not sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living… The Committee recommends that… the national minimum wage is periodically reviewed and set at a level sufficient to provide all workers and their families with a decent standard of living. It also recommends that the State party extend the protection of the national minimum wage to those under the age of 25.”

Social security

“The Committee is deeply concerned about the various changes in the entitlements to, and cuts in, social benefits… such as the reduction of the household benefit cap, the removal of the spare-room subsidy (bedroom tax), the four year freeze on certain benefits and the reduction in child tax credits. The Committee is particularly concerned about the adverse impact of these changes and cuts on the enjoyment of the rights to social security and to an adequate standard of living by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including women, children, persons with disabilities, low-income families and families with two or more children. The Committee calls upon the State party to:

– Review the entitlement conditions and reverse the cuts in social security benefits introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016;

– Restore the link between the rates of state benefits and the costs of living and guarantee that all social benefits provide a level of benefits sufficient to ensure an adequate standard of living, including access to health care, adequate housing and food;”

Violence towards women with disabilities

“While noting the adoption of a national strategy on gender-based violence in March 2016, the Committee regrets the lack of information specifying how it effectively addresses violence against women and girls with disabilities.”

Poverty

“The Committee notes with concern that certain groups of the population are more affected by, or at an increased risk of, poverty, in particular persons with disabilities…”

Housing

“The Committee is concerned about the persistent critical situation in terms of availability, affordability and accessibility of adequate housing in the State party, in part as a result of cuts in state benefits. The Committee also notes with concern that the lack of social housing has forced households to move into the private rental sector, which is not adequate in terms of affordability, habitability, accessibility and security of tenure.

“The Committee… urges the State Party to… Adopt all necessary measures to address the housing deficit by ensuring a sufficient supply of housing, in particular social housing units, especially for the most disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including middle-and lowincome individuals and households, young people and persons with disabilities…”

Homelessness

“The Committee is concerned about the significant rise in homelessness in the State party, particularly in England and Northern Ireland, affecting mostly single persons, families with children, victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities and asylum-seekers. The Committee urges the State party to take immediate measures, including by allocating appropriate funds to local authorities, to reduce the exceptionally high levels of homelessness, particularly in England and Northern Ireland, and to ensure adequate provision of reception facilities, including emergency shelters…”

Mental Health

“Despite the legal duty introduced by the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 to deliver “parity of esteem” between mental and physical health, the Committee is concerned about the lack of adequate resources provided to mental health services. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the effective implementation of the duty introduced by the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 and allocate sufficient resources to the mental health sector.”

Social care for older persons

“The Committee remains concerned about reports of persistent serious shortcomings in the care and treatment of older persons, including those with dementia. The Committee is also concerned about reports that relate the increase of mortality of older persons with the reduction of pension benefits…

The Committee… urges the State party to take all necessary measures to ensure adequate pension benefits, care and treatment of older people, including by carrying out training programmes for doctors and health care professionals about the rights of older persons and the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases.”

Disability United hope that the recommendations given be Committee will be followed and that future reports will show improvement in these areas.

Have personal experience of any of the issues mentioned in the report? Tell us your story by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DUnitedUK, emailing us at editor@disabilityunited.co.uk or leaving your comments below.

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