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Disability movement 'at a crossroads' - Turn2us

Guardian article on the disability movement (link opens in a new window)Huge advances have been made to the lives and rights of people with disabilities in the UK in the past few decades - as the forthcoming Paralympics in London will demonstrate. Much of this has been achieved through the efforts of disabled campaigners who have fought for legislative and welfare reforms that have led to many changes.

However, an article by David Brindle published online in The Guardian on 20 August, suggests that the UK's disability movement is currently 'at a crossroads as spending cuts threaten the advances made since the 1970s'  and the disability agenda seemingly 'dominated by a struggle to preserve gains won'.

It says that there is a need for new impetus and leadership within the disability movement - especially as there is much more work to be done. Despite the enormous achievements, many people with disabilities continue to face disadvantages, with: 

  • One in three living in poverty
  • One in two of working age being unemployed
  • Older teenagers with disabilities being twice as likely as their non-disabled counterparts not to be in education, employment or training
  • Hate crime becoming a serious issue - with recorded incidents growing by 60% between 2009 and 2011.

Views of leading disability advisers

In his article, David Brindle highlights the views of two leading policy advisers about issues that need to be addressed:

Jenny Morris, formerly disability policy adviser to the Labour Government, argues in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation paper Rethinking Disability Policy (link opens in a new window) that people with disabilities need to start and "lead a wider debate about the nature and purpose of the welfare state, applying to it the concept of reasonable adjustments that lies at the heart of the Disability Discrimination Act, and thereby challenging the creeping prejudice that benefit payments are merely a drain on the economy".

Liz Sayce, chief executive of the charity Disability Rights UK (link opens in a new window), believes there are significant issues could be taken up, including campaigning for the Government's disability strategy, to be published in September 2012, "to have real teeth, and exposing the failure of Whitehall departments to work together on disability issues; ensuring ministers fulfil their promise to overturn the ban on jury service for people with a mental disorder and to scrap the legal provisions that can have them stripped of company directorships, and pressing for tougher action against negative portrayals of disabled people in the media".

Source: Guardian article: Behind the Paralympics, the reality for disabled people in Britain 2012 (link opens in a new window)

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