Well Gordon, when your predecessor came to Parliament in a landslide victory I posed ten challenges about what he was going to do to redress the balance of the previous Governments misrule over disabled people.
I shall pose again those ten challenges from 1997 with a summary (in red) of what has been and what remains to be done:
1. Immediate and emergency action to ensure that the Lords decision in the Gloucestershire case is invalidated. That is we demand a restoration of a needs led absolute duty upon local authorities to provide the care in the community
This was never reversed and today the situation has worsened to the degree that local authorities continue to be able to evade statutory duties on cost grounds.
2. The government to take whatever fiscal means are necessary to ensure that local authorities have the resources to spend on care/adaptations and assurances that these funds will be ring fenced so that they cannot be spent on other non related services.
Goes without saying that it has not!
3. The introduction of new regulations giving statutory powers to the Disability Council to pursue and where necessary prosecute cases of discrimination, on the lines of the equal opportunities and racial equality commissions.
The disability rights commission replaced the Disability Council, but now we will lose that within an overarching equal rights body which has already been criticised for weakening the force of what legislation we have.
4. The Immediate implementation of remaining sections of Tom Clarke's 1986 Services and Representation Act and an end to the delay in implementing the extensions to part M of Building regulations to include housing.
It never happened, instead we had the Community Care act, not essentially focused on disabled peoples rights and not leading to adequate assessments or provision. Jack Ashley has recently proposed anew private members billbut will it be allowed to progress?
5. The government to bring forward the dates for implementing next stages of Disability Discrimination Act with regard to the duty to make adjustments and the introduction of transport regulations.And to allocate finances from the millennium fund to facilitate this as the only proper and lasting way to mark the new millennium.
We had to wait long enough, but the final provisions are now in force.
6. An Immediate review of recent social security regulations which have had a negative impact on disabled people. including the scrapping of housing benefit cuts for single people under the 60. an overhaul of the incapacity for work test, payments of DLA mobility whilst in hospital, restoration of full backdating of benefits and last but not least revision of the rights of appeal which have been steadily loaded against unrepresented appellants.
It has only got worse with new legislation once again penalising and victimising disabled people as work shy and scroungers.
7. Parliamentary reform to ensure that private members bills relieve a proper hearing and are only ever defeated on legitimate grounds not the ruritanian procedural farces we witnessed all too often under the last government.
There have been some Parliamentary reforms including the abolition of hereditary peers and some of the stranger procedural customs, but private members bills such as the Independant Living Bill refered to earlier, still face an uphill struggle against official business.
8. Reform of the legal system to ensure that individuals are given the resources to challenge government and local authority decisions quickly and easily whilst limiting of the scope for local authorities and government to involve individuals in lengthy and potentially expensive appeals to a circus of higher and more remote courts. A Courts judgement should stand and should only be counter challenged in exceptional circumstances if a judge in a lower court does not have the legal knowledge to make such a decision, then that judge is unfit to be in office.
No way :( do you think the judges and the lawyers would ever agree to universal access to justice? Legal aid reform has neither made access to law easier for the disenfranchised elements in society nor reduced the exorbitant fees that lawyers charge for doing less than it takes me to write this blog.
9. An end to the massaging unemployment figures by inappropriate use of poorly funded and administered "training courses". Everybody should have equal access to suitable training without it prejudicing their rights to benefit and forcing them into unsuitable and short term expedient courses or low paid work.
I am not sure about the figures, it is not like it was under Thatcher, but the quality of training has not improved one jot, is equally irrelevant and poorly administered by companies who milk the nations taxes to merely massage the figures.
10. Finally if these demands appear to be overtly political so be it. Charities should have the right to engage in the full political process without restraint. If it has become apparent that one or other named political party has become inherently resistant to the principles of equality and human rights which the charity stands for it is both a duty and a right for that charity to actively engage the issue and not step around it for fear of incurring the wrath of the charities commission.
Hear hear to that, we still labour under antiquated Elizabethan throwback charity law which was not designed for the modern age. It is about time the old categories of charity were simply abolished and replaced by a simple European wide registration category for not for profit non governmental organisations which would allow overt political challenge to the status quo in any European state without compromising tax advantage, so long as they were genuinly organisations for the welfare of Europes citizens, controlled and directed by the categories of people they represent. Yes NAS unless your policy is set at top level by autistic and neuro diverse people, you should pay a tax penalty !!! That is not force, that is incentive...