DISABLED people face a difficult future as the government pursues the “same failed austerity agenda,” Unison’s National Disabled Member’s Conference heard in Brighton at the weekend.
Unison vice-president Carol Sewell stated that the government had “failed miserably” in its stated aim of halving disabled unemployment figures.
Ms Sewell slammed the government for turning Britain into a “paradise for big business.”
Conference heard from delegates about the issues facing disabled people in the workplace, with many sharing experiences of employers failing to make reasonable adjustments and the abuse of capability procedures.
Guest speaker Tansy Hutchinson criticised the government’s response to a House of Lords committee report on the Equality Act as “ill-informed.”
She said that the needs of disabled people tend to be an afterthought.
The conference comes as ministers announced a new policy which seeks to tackle the “prejudices and misunderstandings” preventing people with disabilities and long-term health conditions from finding work.
The plans include a review of the system of statutory sick pay and GP “fit notes” to encourage people to make “phased” returns to work as they recover and a consultation on the controversial Work Capability Assessment tests as the government aims to deliver more “targeted and personalised” support for claimants.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said: “This green paper marks the start of our action to confront the attitudes, prejudices and misunderstandings that, after many years, have become ingrained within the welfare state, within the minds of employers and across wider society.”
However shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams pointed out the hypocrisy of her counterpart’s statement.
“For Damian Green to claim that this Tory government is confronting the negative attitudes and prejudices that it has spent six years encouraging is ridiculous,” she said.
“It is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of disabled people who have been on the receiving end of their callous social security regime.”