Thanks to the support of Islington Lib Dems and 13 Lib Dem conference reps, the Equal Citizenship motion has been submitted today to the Federal Conference Committee to be considered for debate at this year's autumn conference in Brighton.
I'd just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped get the motion this far as now we just need to keep our fingers crossed that it gets accepted for debate.
For those who are interested, this is the final draft of the motion:
Equal Citizenship: Updating sickness and disability policy for 2015
A) The passage of the Welfare Reform Act, particularly:
i. Changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
ii. The introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) as a replacement for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people of working age which is expected to cut the DLA budget by 20%.
iii. The feeling of exclusion from the welfare reform policy development process amongst the disabled community.
iv. The conclusions of the report ‘Reversing Recovery’ on the impact of the Welfare Reform Act.
B) The Harrington Reports reviewing the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which determines eligibility for ESA.
C) The passage of policy motion F6 ‘Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments’ by Autumn Federal Conference 2011.
D) The presence of executives of organisations such as Unum UK on the DWP’s technical working groups and other bodies which influence DWP policy on sickness and disability.
F) The rise in disability hate crime in recent years as reported in a survey conducted by the disability charity Scope.
I) That society and government have a duty of care towards sick and disabled people and that the goals of government policy must be the empowerment of sick and disabled people in order to tackle and reduce their dependency on others and, fundamentally, to enable them to enjoy full and equal citizenship.
II) That current welfare policy is failing sick and disabled people and that the Welfare Reform Act does not do enough to remedy this situation.
III) That businesses such as Unum UK have a financial interest in the outcome of welfare policy and that their conflict of interest has led to successive reforms of DWP policy which have been detrimental to the well-being of sick and disabled people.
IV) That sick and disabled people unable to work or unable to find employment should be supported by the welfare system for as long as they are unable to work or find employment and that mechanisms such as the time limiting of contributory ESA are counterproductive and harmful.
V) That welfare policies which force sick and disabled people to be dependent on others prevents them from being able to enjoy equal citizenship and leads to exclusion from society.
VI) That further positive action by government is required to prevent victimisation of and discrimination against sick and disabled people by employers.
VII) That more needs to be done in society as a whole to remove barriers to access to employment, transport and participation as equal citizens.
Conference therefore calls for:
- An independent review of the impact of the Welfare Reform Act.
- An immediate end to WCA assessment centres without disabled access and which lack easy access by public transport.
- The establishment of a public consultation on the assessment mechanisms for DLA, ESA and PIPs, with special emphasis on eligibility for support for those with time variant conditions.
- The results of this consultation to be used by the DWP to reform its sickness and disability policies.
- Additional support and effort to be targeted at enabling sick and disabled people to remain in work and at removing barriers of access to work through expansion of schemes such as the Access to Work Fund.
- The Citizen’s Advice and non profit making advice services to receive increased government funding during the transitional periods for any future substantial changes to the welfare system.
- Means-testing and income-related support elements of disability welfare policy to be reformed to end situations where sick and disabled people are made wholly dependent on partners and carers.
- A public awareness campaign to tackle prejudice and other attitudes detrimental to the well-being of sick and the disabled people.
- For the Federal Policy Committee to establish a working policy group on sickness and disability issues.