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2016 National Disabled Members' Conference
8 July 2016

Conference following a suggestion by Baroness Thomas of Winchester, herself disabled, the House of Lords appointed a post-legislative scrutiny committee to look at the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people. The Committee’s remit was to consider:

• Why change was needed;

• If the Act has been successful;

• If the Government helps or hinders the Act;

• Could things done by the Act be done better without it; and

• Issues raised by witnesses

On 24 March 2016 the Committee published their report and although the results were not surprising they were shocking. Amongst other things the Committee found that:

• There is a lack of understanding of reasonable adjustments

• Public transport is still not inaccessible

• The Public Sector Equality Duty is ineffective

• Communication and consultation needs to be improved

• The Equality and Human Rights Commission is under-resourced

• Disabled people are and afterthought for Government and public authorities

• Disabled people’s rights are unenforceable

• The Equality Act is not a good Act for disabled people

The report concluded that disabled people were better off with their own Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Rights Commission.

Conference the Committee said it is too late to turn back the clock. The government are supposed to respond to the report within two months but at the time of writing, in July, no response has been received. This is unacceptable and confirms the Committee’s findings that disabled people are an afterthought.

UNISON has a proud history of leading the campaign for disabled people’s rights. The recent decision to leave the European Union means it is vital that we build on this good work not to turn back the clock but to make disabled people’s rights move forward. Conference calls on the NDMC to work with the NEC to:

1. Campaign for additional legislation to be introduced to protect and improve disabled people’s rights

2. Lobby for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to be given dedicated resources to support disabled people to enforce their rights

3. Call for a strengthening of the Public Sector Equality Duty to at least the same level as the previous Disability Equality Duty

4. Write to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition requesting that the Minister for Disabled People is moved from the DWP to either the Cabinet Office or the Department for Communities and Local Government