A team of United Nations investigators has this week begun a two-week visit to the UK as part of an inquiry into allegations of “systematic and grave” violations of disabled people’s human rights.
The UK appears to have become the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD).
The committee said last summer that it was not allowed to say whether the inquiry was underway, and that level of secrecy has continued with this month’s visit, with those giving evidence asked to sign confidentiality agreements.
It is understood that a team of about six UN staff has arrived in the UK. They are due to meet parliamentarians, disabled people’s organisations, civil servants, representatives of local authorities, academics and senior figures from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
They will also hear direct evidence from scores of individuals about the impact of government austerity measures, including former users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), whistleblowers and disabled activists.
Among the issues being raised are believed to be the government’s decision to close ILF; cuts to legal aid; benefit cuts and sanctions, including the impact of the discredited work capability assessment; the severe shortage of accessible, affordable housing; the impact of the bedroom tax on disabled people; cuts to social care; and the rise in disability hate crime.
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