The UK Government's welfare change programme has resulted in grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights, according to a report by a United Nations Committee.
The findings, by the UN Committee in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, have been welcomed by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, which is calling on ministers to act urgently on the committee's recommendations. Among other points, these call for a cumulative impact assessment of measures adopted since 2010, assessments to ensure that further reforms do not disproportionately affect disabled people, and that they respect their rights and autonomy.
Responding to the report, the SHRC says it considers the inquiry process to have been "robust, comprehensive and based on a systematic review of the evidence available", with disabled people’s organisations having been invited and supported to take part in the Inquiry.
"We call on the UK Government to act urgently on each of the committee’s recommendations, so that disabled people are able to access all of their rights, including the right to live independently, to work and to an adequate standard of living", the SHRC continued. "These rights are protected in international law by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We will monitor the Convention’s implementation in Scotland. States that ratify the Convention have to use an independent process to ensure it is properly implemented."
It added: "The Committee’s findings underscore the importance of taking a rights-based approach to policymaking. As the Scottish Government and Parliament considers how to utilise new devolved powers in relation to social security, the Commission draws attention to the need to embed human rights into any new laws, policies and practices."
The SHRC recently provided detailed recommendations on these issues to the Scottish Government’s consultation on A New Future for Social Security.
Last week the UK Supreme Court ruled that aspects of the so-called "bedroom tax" discriminated against disabled hosing benefit claimants.
In its response to the committee's findings, the UK Government states: "Individuals and organisations may disagree with the current approach to welfare reform, but the Government does not accept the report’s conclusion that there is evidence of grave and systematic violation of the rights of disabled people."