Labour unveils ‘disability manifesto’ worth £2.6bn

Elliot Chappell

Labour has unveiled measures worth £2.6bn to tackle discrimination and restore protections for disabled people and their families in its new ‘disability manifesto’.

The party will launch the document, ‘Breaking Down Barriers‘, on Tuesday. The proposals outline how Labour would enforce the right of disabled people to live independent lives.

The party says that the reforms required to do this would amount to £2.6bn, which is already included in John McDonnell’s ‘grey book’ that sets out costings for the central manifesto.

The measures detailed in the disability manifesto include:

  • Ensuring a disabled child on Universal Credit receives the same amount as a disabled child on child tax credits;
  • Introducing a self-care element into UC to support severely disabled people without a formal carer;
  • Increasing the employment and support allowance by £30 a week for those in the work-related activity group;
  • Raising carers’ allowance to the same level as jobseekers allowance;
  • Abolishing the punitive sanctions regime, suspending all sanctions and scrapping the dehumanising Work Capability Assessments and Personal Independence Payment assessments.

Ahead of the disability manifesto launch, Jeremy Corbyn said: “The treatment of disabled people by Conservative and Lib Dem governments… should be a source of shame.

“Labour will put right this injustice. We’ll ensure that disabled people get the support they need to lead independent lives and participate fully in society. We are on your side.”

The manifesto commits to halving the disability employment gap by bringing in specialist employment advisors, and requiring that all employers be trained to support disabled people.

Labour says it would introduce mandatory disability pay gap reporting for companies with over 250 employees, give people the right to disability leave, produce statutory guidance on timescales for the implementation of reasonable adjustment and introduce a government-backed reasonable adjustments report.

The party has also pledged to increase access for disabled people at every level of education by developing a strategy on inclusivity throughout the education system and investing in SENCOs.

Access to criminal justice for disabled people would be ensured by incorporating disability hate crime in law and requiring annual reporting on hate crime and violence against disabled women.

Labour’s disabilities spokesperson, Marsha de Cordova, said: “I have heard from disabled people all over the country who are angry at how they have been treated by Conservative-led governments and passionate about working with Labour to transform how government approaches disability rights.

“I am proud that Labour is the only party with a manifesto developed by and for disabled people, according to our principle of ‘nothing about you without you’. Labour in government will embody that principle, empowering disabled people and enhancing our voices.

Breaking Down Barriers takes us beyond what we’ve previously committed, and sets out how we’ll radically shift our approach to ensure the economic, social and structural barriers faced by disabled people are addressed. It’s time for real change.”

Labour says its manifesto would break down barriers for disabled people in transport with measures such as ending the discriminatory driver-only operation on trains and introduce talking buses.

The party would remove obstacles for disabled people in cultural and political life more generally by giving full legal recognition to British Sign Language and reinstating the access to elected office fund.

The UN reported that the Tories have committed “systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people while their families have been “driven to breaking point” by cuts to social security.

Poverty in families where someone is disabled has increase by over one million since 2010, and almost half of all working-age adults in poverty live in a family that includes a disabled adult or child.

A disabled child on UC currently receives less than half the basic addition for disabled children in child tax credits – £1,513 a year, compared to £3,355 a year under child tax. The difference is currently £1,842 a year, or £154 a month.

The full text of the manifesto, ‘Breaking Down Barriers’, can be found here

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