The right to independent living

The government is failing to uphold the right to independent living as documented in the Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities

The right to independent living

Shamefully, the UK is the first and only country in the world to be formally investigated by the UN Disability Committee using the Optional Protocols in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and to be found guilty of the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights. This inquiry only occurred because of the work of DPAC.

Furthermore, last year when the UK was subject to the normal periodic review by the UN the committee chair described the situation in the UK as a ‘human catastrophe.’ Now the UK is the only country in the world to be subject to an annual review of its appalling treatment of disabled people. This is the great Tory legacy for disabled people but probably not a surprise given their abominable track record in other areas as well.

One of the main areas the UN investigated was the right to independent living, but what exactly does the Disabled People’s Movement mean when it talks about independent living? Basically, it doesn’t mean that people should be independent and able to do things for themselves but rather that disabled people should have the support they need choose how they want to live their lives and have the right levels of care and support to do this in place.

Technically there are 12 pillars of independent living all of which need to be in place for disabled people to be fully included in society and have choice and control over their lives.

These are:

  1. Appropriate and Accessible Information
  2. An adequate income
  3. Appropriate and accessible health and social care provisions
  4. A fully-accessible transport system
  5. Full access to the environment
  6. Adequate provision of technical aids and equipment
  7. Availability of accessible and adapted housing
  8. Adequate provision of personal assistance
  9. Availability of inclusive education and training
  10. Equal opportunities for employment
  11. Availability of independent advocacy and self- advocacy
  12. Availability of peer counselling

The right to independent living is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which in theory the UK is a signatory to. As this is the 21st century and the UK is still the 6th richest nation in the world some of you may be wondering why this might be a problem – especially if you have no experience of our complex and failing care system. Surely if you are or become disabled you get the care and support you need provided free – don’t you?

Well no, even in our very rich nation social care is not free at the point of delivery although if you have medical needs which qualify you might get free care through Continuing Health Care but that only applies to a very small proportion of disabled people.

Social Care is provided through local authorities and since 2010, as the Tories have decimated local authority budgets, spending on social care has been slashed by £7 billion. A recent survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) shows that English councils plan even further cuts of a further £700 million from social care budgets in 2018-19 equivalent to almost 5% of current already inadequate spending.

Since 2010 and especially since the Care Act of 2014, the number of people entitled to social care has fallen and 1.2 million older and disabled people - an increase of 48% - do not get the care and support they need to keep them safe let alone to live independently.

These cuts have increased the pressure on unpaid family carers who are now estimated to provide care worth £132 billion – almost as much as the UK’s total spending on healthcare. The Care and Support Alliance says 2 million people have been forced to give up work to provide care since 2010.

In spite of this disgusting record and the endless regression of disabled people’s human rights in July the Department for International Development is planning a Global Summit together with the government of Kenya specifically to showcase to disability NGOs and charities from the South how wonderful the UK is at upholding disabled people’s human rights.

We at DPAC refuse to allow this hypocrisy to go ahead unchallenged and so will be organising a series of our own events to counteract this untruthful propaganda.


This article was written by DPAC as part of our month of disability activism. You can read more of their content here, or all of our activism content here.

Header Image Credit: Steve PB

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Voice Mag

Voice Mag

Voice is a magazine and platform for young creatives covering arts, culture, politics and technology. This account contains anonymous posts, information regarding the website and our events.

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1 Comments

  • Luke Taylor

    On 9 July 2018, 10:07 Luke Taylor commented:

    I am actually disgusted to be living in a country that is so apathetic towards the disabled.

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