Co-vice chair of Disability Labour: 'It's not Brexit that I fear, it's the Tory government'


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The co-vice chair of Disability Labour has said she fears the rights of people with disabilities will "go backwards" after Brexit.

Kathryn Bole told talkRADIO she had heard "absolutely nothing" from the government regarding what will happen to disability legislation after leaving the EU.

Ms Bole said: "It's not Brexit that I fear, it's the Tory government. I fear what they will do, or not do, to make us safe.

"I dont have confidence that people are going to replace what little we have with the same amount of little. I fear we're going to go backwards."


In his keynote speech at the Labour party conference, Jeremy Corbyn claimed that the Conservative party had made a "hostile environment" for disabled people.

Ms Bole said she "absolutely" agreed with his comments.

"I've been in this country from before austerity started and I've seen how it has deteriorated for disabled people. You have literally thousands of people who are dying because they're getting delayed benefits, they're being reassesed, they're being not believed..." she said.

"I don't have any confidence that we will get anything near what they will have in Europe."

The UK passed the first piece of leglislation in the world that recognised and awarded rights to disabled people in 1970, called the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.


How has the EU affected UK policy?

In 1995, the UK introduced its first disability discrimination legislation, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

Under the DDA, businesses that had fewer than 20 employers could still discriminate against employees with a disability, but this exemption was removed in 2004 after pressure from the EU.

The EU had a further impact on disability legislation in the UK in 2008, when the European Court of Justice ruled that it was unlawful to discriminate against employees due to their carer status or relationship to a disabled person.


What rights do disabled people currently have in the UK?

The Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations (UN) Convention on disability rights help to enforce, protect and promote the rights of disabled people in the UK.

Under the legislation, people with disabilities are protected from discrimination at work, in education, as a consumer, using public services, when buying or renting property and as a member or guest of a private club or association.

Carers and people with disabilities can also access benefits, such as the Blind Person's Allowance, which is a tax-free allowance available to those who are registered with their local council as blind or severely sight impaired, and Carer’s Credit, for those who are caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week.