The future for equalities

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2012 National LGBT Conference
21 September 2012


Conference notes that the Minister for Women and Equalities is now Maria Miller, the former Minister for Disability.

During Miller’s term of office as Disability Minister, we have seen unprecedented attacks on the rights of disabled people:

• The closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and funding passed to local authorities. The fund currently assists 19,700 people to live independently.

• Welfare reform of a number of benefits which impact on disabled people and workers

• Changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a view to reducing costs by 20% despite evidence that fraudulent claims only amount to 0.5% of all claims.

• Cuts to local authority social care budgets which have reached £900 million this year on top of £1 billion pounds the pervious year according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Service. This has resulted in eligibility criteria for social care being raised with some cases restricting it to critical or substantial needs.

• In May, calls were dismissed for an assessment of the cumulative effect of the policy changes on the UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Miller claimed that this would be too complex.

Many disabled people are being pushed off Employment Support Allowance and onto jobseekers’ allowance which does not take into account that there still exists major barriers to accessing work and the workplace, discrimination from employers and a lack of awareness and understanding of disability for disabled people remain.

Although positive statements were made to expand the access to work scheme, there are concerns that this will be delayed due to an expert advisory panel being appointed.

Conference also notes that Maria Miller has not in the past been an ally for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people voting for the provisions that a child requires a father and a mother and that a child requires a male role model during the debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. She was also absent for other votes such as the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. Miller is also reported as being in favour of defining religious and racial hatred as freedom of speech.

Conference therefore instructs the National LGBT Committee working with all relevant structures of the union including Labour Link and external organisations as appropriate:

1)To ascertain the position of the Government on the future of equality provisions, in particular on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

2)to continue to campaign against the erosion of the equality agenda

3)to continue monitoring the Government’s performance on equality and how austerity measures are impacting on all our LGBT members

4)to seek examples from members, branches and regional groups of how the equality and cuts agenda has had an impact on them.