UKIP is refusing to say whether it is in favour of

first_imgUKIP is refusing to say whether it is in favour of key sections of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).Last week, its election manifesto made it clear that UKIP supported article 19 of the convention which outlines the “equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others”.The manifesto adds: “We wholly endorse the right of the disabled to access in-home, residential and community support services and we support their inclusion in our communities.”But despite repeated attempts this week by Disability News Service to secure a response from the party, particularly from its disability spokeswoman, Star Etheridge, UKIP has failed to say whether it supports other articles in the convention.These include sections focusing on the right to: accessibility; life; personal mobility; freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; access to justice; freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse; respect for privacy; and liberty of movement and nationality.In an interview with Disability News Service two years ago, Etheridge distanced herself from some of the party’s previous discriminatory policies, and suggested there would be a “radical change” in its approach at the 2015 general election.Etheridge, who is disabled herself, has also refused to provide further details on UKIP’s plans to scrap the Care Quality Commission – which inspects and regulates the NHS and social care – and replace its inspectors with locally-elected health and social care officials on new county health boards.DNS contacted Etheridge by email on Monday (23 April), and later followed up by phone and through a Facebook message, as well as with a call to the UKIP press office, but she and the party failed to respond.Etheridge, who is standing for election in Wolverhampton North East, did have time on Thursday to post a series of pictures about a bunch of flowers she had been sent by an anonymous admirer, and to tell her Facebook followers about her plans to visit the hairdresser “to get my hair and nails done” before an evening hustings event.The previous day, her many Facebook posts included comments on aliens, the need for capital punishment for paedophiles, a family expedition to buy a new suit, and her son’s taste in music.last_img read more

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One of the leading disabled supporters of legalisi

first_imgOne of the leading disabled supporters of legalising assisted suicide has encouraged opponents by appearing to admit that there are crucial flaws in the legislation that will be debated by MPs next month.Comments by Dr Tom Shakespeare (pictured) this week suggest that there is no possibility that any safeguards introduced through the assisted dying bill would prevent all unnecessary or abusive deaths.He said that safeguards were “very important” but that “even the best safeguard is not infallible” and “any law can be bypassed”.Supporters of legalisation, including its main organisational cheerleader, Dignity in Dying (DiD), repeatedly stress the bill’s “upfront safeguards”.Other high-profile supporters of a change in the law, such as Kate Green, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, have stressed that they will only vote for a new law if the safeguards are water-tight.Shakespeare is one of the most high-profile disabled supporters of legalising assisted suicide.He is among those backing a private member’s bill being proposed by the Labour MP Rob Marris, which is due to be debated – and voted on – by MPs on 11 September, and would allow an assisted suicide for people found to be terminally-ill with less than six months to live, in England and Wales.In an interview with Disability News Service last week, Shakespeare claimed he would reconsider his position on the bill if presented with evidence showing concerns with how a similar law had been implemented in the US state of Oregon.But this week he dismissed evidence shown to him from Oregon and the state of Washington – where assisted suicide is also legal – that proves that many people using the law cite the feeling that they will be a “burden” to family and friends as one of their reasons for wanting to be helped to die.In 2013, according to official state records, 49 per cent of those who were given a prescription for drugs to end their lives in Oregon said “being a burden” was one of the reasons (40 per cent in 2014); in Washington state, which has similar legislation, 59 per cent cited “being a burden” in 2014, and 61 per cent in 2013.Despite his comments last week, Shakespeare said he did not see these figures as worrying.He said the three most cited concerns in Oregon in 2013 were loss of autonomy (91 per cent), decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable (87 per cent), and loss of dignity (71 per cent).He said: “Those all seem to me credible reasons which should not concern us in terms of possible abuses. “Burden is way down the list at number six.” [It is actually fifth, and in Washington it is fourth.]Shakespeare also accepted that if the bill became law, terminally-ill people would probably shop around for a doctor who was in favour of assisted suicide to support their application to die.But he said that that “does not mean that the doctor who is in principle in favour of assisted dying would give a particular individual permission to proceed. “I would imagine that doctors would always be very careful as to who they supported to die. The alternative is abuse, uproar and discredited legislation, which nobody wants.”Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), which is campaigning against the bill, said it was deeply critical of the position that Shakespeare had taken.Debbie Jolly, a co-founder of DPAC, said the majority of the many emails that DPAC receives on the issue were “fundamentally against assisted suicide, seeing it as a clear threat to their lives”. She said: “We also get emails that tell us of disabled people with no money, food, about to lose their homes, people who have been continually sanctioned, people who are forced to rely on their families.“They’re the ones who might say they don’t want to go on, they’re the ones that might mention suicide as a way out.“Is this an individual choice? No, it’s about being denied basic human dignity by a raft of heinous policy changes.“The current economic situation, loss of the Independent Living Fund, the cuts in the NHS, the removal of life-saving drugs due to cost, aren’t around individual choice either. “Until we have a level playing-field for disabled people to live with dignity, we cannot condone something as dangerous as an assisted suicide bill.”Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, disputed Shakespeare’s claim that disabled people should not be concerned that so many people in Oregon had cited loss of autonomy, decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable, and loss of dignity, as reasons why they wanted to kill themselves.Lazard said: “It should absolutely concern us that loss of autonomy, decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable and a loss of dignity are cited as the main reasons for choosing assisting suicide in Oregon.”She added: “In Washington state, 61 per cent of those opting for assisted suicide cited ‘being a burden’.  “These factors are about being disabled and they are all factors strongly exacerbated in the current climate, where cuts to support and services mean more and more disabled people are facing a life defined by these characteristics and experiences.“We know of at least one person who committed suicide rather than face life as a burden to family and friends after the closure of the Independent Living Fund.“We know of others in similar positions so completely worn down as a result of the savage cuts now being proposed to their social care packages that they feel like giving up.“Meanwhile, the safeguards suggested by the bill are completely inadequate for what amounts to a fundamental shifting of the ethical ground on which our medical profession and our society stands.”last_img read more

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Legal advice commissioned by the equality and huma

first_imgLegal advice commissioned by the equality and human rights watchdog has called for disabled people to have a legal right to independent living.The barrister was asked by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last year to examine if there needed to be a right to independent living in law for disabled people, because of concerns that their right to choice and control over their lives was being “eroded”.The lawyer has now concluded that there does need to be a legal right to independent living, although there are several options for how that could be achieved.Now EHRC is consulting on which of those options it should recommend, and it is likely to publish its conclusions by the end of the year.An EHRC spokesman told Disability News Service that the barrister’s advice contains “quite a few options” on “how such a right could work in practice”.He said: “We are going to speak to a range of people involved and see if we can narrow down those options and will then come forward with a set of proposals.”Although he said EHRC could not yet say that it agreed that there needed to be a legal right to independent living, he said its proposals would “take into account” the barrister’s advice.Last autumn, the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) called on the UK government to recognise disabled people’s legal right to independent living, one of the key demands disabled people and their organisations in the UK had made in their submissions to the committee .Stig Langvad (pictured), the CRPD member who led the examination of how the UK had implemented the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), said then that the UK was “going backwards” on independent living.Meanwhile, two Commons committees have called this week for a new, dedicated national insurance fund to solve the adult social care funding crisis.The joint report by the housing, communities and local government committee and the health and social care committee calls for a new “social care premium” which would be paid only by those over the age of 40, including those over 65.It also calls for an increase in inheritance tax.The report was influenced by the findings of a citizens’ assembly, a representative sample of nearly 50 members of the public – including disabled people who use services – who were asked by the committees to consider how best to fund social care.Two-thirds of the assembly voted for an entirely publicly-funded system that would be free at the point of use, like the NHS.But despite written evidence from Inclusion London, which called for a legal right to independent living underpinned by UNCRPD’s article 19, the report appears to have ignored such rights or any mention of the social model of disability.The committees said the social care system was under “very great and unsustainable strain” and there was an urgent need to plug the gap in funding for adult social care that could reach £2.5 billion a year by 2019-20.The inquiry report says that the personal element of social care should eventually be provided free, although accommodation costs should continue to be paid on a means-tested basis.As the two committees say that this policy is “unlikely to be affordable immediately”, they recommend that free personal care should be extended first to people with the highest – “critical” – level of assessed need.Sarah Wollaston, the Tory chair of the health and social care committee, said: “We can no longer delay finding a fair and sustainable settlement for social care.“Too many people are being left without the care and support they need and it is time for decisions to be made about how the costs are shared.”last_img read more

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For nine years Disability News Service has surviv

first_imgFor nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support its work and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please remember that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring, and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Nearly 7,000 employers that signed up to the government’s much-criticised Disability Confident jobs scheme have promised to provide just 4,500 new jobs for disabled people between them, less than one per employer.The figures emerged as the minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey were giving evidence to the work and pensions select committee yesterday (Wednesday) for its inquiry on disability employment.Newton had been asked to write to the committee about the Disability Confident employment scheme (see separate story), which was launched in the summer of 2013.The scheme has three levels – Disability Confident Committed (the entry level), Disability Confident Employer and Disability Confident Leader (level three) – but it is only at level three that employers’ pledges and claims on employing disabled people are assessed independently.In a letter to Labour MP Frank Field, who chairs the committee, Newton said that 133 employers across the UK had reached the level of Disability Confident Leader, while this number had risen by just 35 in the last six months.In all, 6,841 employers had signed up by 22 June, with more than 4,000 at the lowest level, and just four employers in total signed up in Northern Ireland.Employers had, by the end of March 2018, committed to provide a total of 4,586 paid jobs, 2,871 apprenticeships and 1,223 traineeships, as well as work experience, work trial, job shadowing, student placement, sector based work academy and paid internship opportunities.Labour MP Neil Coyle, who asked Newton about the figures, said that with the current rate of progress it would take nearly 1,000 years to meet the government’s target of securing jobs for another one million disabled people in the 10 years to 2027.He asked why employers were able to sign up to Disability Confident when they were not even employing a single disabled person.Newton said employers that signed up were on “a journey”, which also included offering supported internships, apprenticeships and work experience.She said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was now commissioning research which would ask employers how Disability Confident had changed their behaviour.Newton told the committee: “We will be asking people about the number of people they have brought into employment.“If there are changes that need to be made [to Disability Confident], we will make them.“It’s a campaign about helping employers understand the benefits of employing people with disabilities and enabling them to do that.”She said the research would examine whether employers have done what they said they would do.Coyle pointed out that it was now five years since the scheme was launched by the coalition government in 2013 (pictured).Labour’s Steve McCabe said critics had said it was too easy to sign up to Disability Confident, and asked Newton what had been done since ministers pledged to “put some teeth into the programme”.Newton said the government wanted to make the initial step onto the scheme “deliberately very straightforward” for employers that want to sign up.But she said they were then taken “on a journey” with increasing levels of support, and when they reach the top level [Disability Confident Leader] their commitments to the scheme are “independently, externally verified”.Field said that if the 7,000 Disability Confident employers all employed five disabled people, it would still only add up to 35,000 disabled people.He said: “We have a long way to go [to reach the target of one million more disabled people in work].”last_img read more

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SAINTS would like to wish all its fans sponsors

first_imgSAINTS would like to wish all its fans, sponsors, friends and the rugby league community a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year.It has been a very successful 2014 both on and off the pitch and on behalf of Chairman Eamonn McManus and the Board of Directors, Chief Executive Mike Rush, the Coaching Staff and of course the players, we’d like to thank you all for your support.This season saw Saints lift the First Utility Super League trophy at Old Trafford and League Leaders’ Shield – a phenomenal achievement that saw the whole squad grow together.We’ve also enjoyed success off the pitch too with a great kit launch for 2015 alongside our new kit partners O’Neills and very good Season Ticket sales ahead of the new campaign.We send our best wishes to everyone who has made this season one to remember – and we’re sure 2015 will be even bigger as we defend our crown and welcome South Sydney to town on February 22.We thought long and hard about what gifts to send out this year… so how about these two shiny presents below. Hope you all like them.#OurSaintslast_img read more

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