Once you find a flaw in an argument, it becomes easy to punch holes right through it.
This Blog just published an article demonstrating that Damian Green’s response to the UN’s report on systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities is wrong.
His claim that the report is out of date is inaccurate – the report refers to measures brought into practice this year (2016).
And Sue Jones deftly rubbishes his comment about spending (following up on my own point, made a couple of days ago, that he is claiming the UN is out of date for using 2015 as a reference point but feels perfectly justified in quoting figures from 2010).
Damian Green: “Their [UN and stakeholder’s] evidence period runs up until the end of 2015, so it is already out of date. We intend to point out that the UK spends around £50 billion a year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions, which is over £6 billion more than in 2010.”
Sue Jones: “Exactly how much of that spending has gone to those people needing essential support, and how much has been spent on contracting private companies, ironically to save money and cut support for disabled people, in order to “target” the ever-shrinking category of “those most in need”?
And given that the government’s track record up until the end of last year indicates that ministers have been atrociously negligent in observing the human rights of disabled people, how do the more recent cuts to ESA, and proposals set out in the work, health and disability green paper remedy that, precisely?”
If you’re thinking that fibromyalgia is an illness rather than a disability, remember that Damian Green sees no difference. This person doesn’t look ill, so he would want to make her – and any disabled person who doesn’t look disabled – go looking for a job. And he doesn’t look stupid, does he?
Silly question, really – he’s talking nonsense, as the Conservative Party has been since it came back into office in 2010.
Just look at his comments in the Guardian article quoted below.
He claims the UN’s report on “systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities” presents an “outdated” view of disability in the UK – but fails to identify in what way it is outdated. It seems more or less up-to-date to This Writer, and I know my stuff when it comes to disability and long-term sickness.
It seems to me that he is trying to suggest that the UN’s concentration on the rights of people with disabilities is outdated in comparison with his government’s view, which is based on the biopsychosocial model of disability.
In that case, it is the Tory government’s view that is outdated, as the biopsychosocial model has long been discredited.
Its basis is the belief that many illnesses and disabilities have no physical reality and are instead figments of a person’s imagination. This means they may be told there is nothing wrong with them and sent back to work – which is why Tory policy is about sending the sick and disabled back to work.
The model was developed by the criminal Unum insurance corporation in the US, as a means to avoid paying out when people’s health insurance policies matured. This has been explored previously by Vox Political.
The UN’s view is that the Tory government should focus on ensuring that the rights of disabled people are upheld. Perhaps Mr Green’s problem with such a view has more to do with his government’s plan to strip disabled people of all their human rights, replacing them with a list of things that Tories think we may be allowed to have.
“We strongly refute its findings,” said Mr Green. Oh really? Where is this refutation, then? For clarity, if a person refutes an assertion, they are providing evidence to demonstrate that it is false or wrong. Mr Green provides no such evidence.
He said, “The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people.” This is a lie.
Only one part of the UN’s recommendations refers to the amount of money spent on people with disabilities – and it does not say anything about whether the UK government currently spends enough.
It calls on the Conservative Government to “Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures”.
Mr Green’s criticism is more appropriate directed at himself – he demonstrated that his government measures its success in money terms by telling the Guardian it spends £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities, and went further by claiming this is a larger proportion of the nation’s wealth than that of Canada, France and the US.
In a nutshell, Mr Green’s arguments are that he does not want disabled people to have any rights, so the UN’s rights-based arguments are irrelevant; that he measures his success according to the amount of money spent on pushing disabled people into work, whether they can do it or not, and that – underpinning his entire philosophy – he relies on an outdated and discredited model of disability, that was originally created to allow a corrupt American insurance company to dodge paying out on its policies.
Put like that, it seems – in this situation – he is the one who cannot support himself.
The work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, has dismissed a critical UN report that concluded that the UK government’s austerity policies “systematically violated” the rights of disabled people.
Green said the report was “patronising and offensive” and presented an outdated view of disability in the UK. He said Britain was “a world leader in disability rights and equality”.
Green said: “At the heart of this report lies an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive. We strongly refute its findings. The UN measures success as the amount of money poured into the system, rather than the work and health outcomes for disabled people. Our focus is on helping disabled people find and stay in work, whilst taking care of those who can’t.”
The government said it spent about £50bn a year to support sick and disabled people – a bigger proportion of GDP than countries including Canada, France and the US.
It said the recent publication of its work and health green paper, which included ambitious proposals to increase employment levels among disabled people, was “a turning point in our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings within the minds of employers and across wider society.”
Before anybody quibbles with my figures, they are accurate, covering the period between December 2011 and May 28, 2014.
As one of those who contributed a large volume of evidence to the United Nations’ investigation, This Writer welcomes its findings.
At the time of writing, I haven’t read the full report but, from the article extract below, it seems my argument – and that of the others who provided similar insight – has been persuasive.
The Conservative Government’s claim that it presents an inaccurate picture of life for disabled people in the UK is a lie.
Based on what is said in the report below, I’d say the UN has it exactly right.
Perhaps the Tories would like to demonstrate where the UN has it wrong? I’d like to be shown the evidence that tens of thousands of people haven’t been harmed by Tory policies. Let’s see it.
Particularly filthy is the comment that, “while the government continues to improve and build on the support available to disabled people, it stands by and is proud of its record.”
This government’s record is of killing more than 2,380 people for no very good reason.
I am bitterly amused by the recommendation that the government carry out a cumulative impact assessment, examining the effects of all its spending cuts on people with disabilities. The Tories have already argued that such an assessment of its “welfare reforms” was impossible – only to be proved wrong by another organisation, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
It seems doubtful the Tories will carry out now what they said was impossible before.
And I despair of any good coming from the UN report. Those of us who know the situation may take heart from the knowledge that the international community agrees with us – but those who pay attention to the Daily Mail will choose to believe the Tories.
And what help with the United Nations provide? How will that organisation penalise the UK government for the thousands of deaths it has caused?
It won’t. Look at the effect of its report on the Bedroom Tax – the Mail (and other Tory-supporting rags) simply slagged off the woman who wrote it.
So the question remains.
How many people have to die before the citizens of the UK wake up to the atrocities being committed in their name?
Austerity policies introduced into welfare and social care by the UK government amount to “systematic violations” of the rights of people with disabilities, a UN inquiry has concluded.
It says a range of measures aimed at reducing public spending since 2010, including controversial changes such as the bedroom tax, and cuts to disability benefits and social care budgets have disproportionately and adversely affected disabled people.
The highly critical report, published in Geneva on Monday afternoon, says the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work, and achieve an adequate standard of living have been negatively affected by austerity measures.
It makes 11 recommendations, including calling on the UK government to carry out a study of the cumulative impact of all spending cuts on disabled people, and to ensure the human rights of disabled people are upheld.
The report is withering about the manner in which ministers have conducted welfare and social care reforms, arguing that they pushed ahead with changes even when they knew they would have an adverse impact on disabled people.
Cuts such as those to personal independence payments and the independent living fund had “hindered various aspects of [disabled people’s] right to live independently”, it says, making them more reliant on family and carers and in some instances forcing them into institutional care.
The bedroom tax and other cuts to housing support had led disproportionately to debt and eviction, it says. “Evidence indicates that persons with disabilities affected by cuts in their housing benefits have undergone high levels of stress anxiety and depression as a consequence of the shortfalls in their budget.”
It is highly critical of what it calls the “functional assessments” of disabled people who have applied for social security benefits, noting that their experience tended to be one where they were “merely processed rather than being listened to or understood”.
Government attempts to decrease the disproportionately high levels of unemployment among disabled people have had little impact, the report notes, while notorious “fit-for-work” tests were riven with flaws.
It noted that disabled people had suffered from a climate in which they were portrayed as “lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers”. They had continued to experience “increasing hostility, aggressive behaviour and sometimes attacks to their personal integrity”.
The report, issued by the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, concludes: “There is reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met.”
The inquiry was triggered after campaigners, including Dpac, made a formal complaint to the UN in 2012 about alleged violations of disabled people’s rights. After two years of deliberations, the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities gave the green light to the inquiry in May 2014.
The inquiry report is based on an 11-day inquiry tour of the UK undertaken by two UN envoys in October 2015. The inquiry team met with more than 200 individuals, including officials and MPs as well as activists and academics.
The UK government, however, rejected the UN report, saying in a formal response its findings presented an inaccurate picture of life for disabled people in the UK. “While the government continues to improve and build on the support available to disabled people, it stands by and is proud of its record.”
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