In the UK persons with disabilities are facing serious risk of poverty, social exclusion and discrimination

Last week I signed a Written Declaration supporting the European Strategy for Persons with Disabilities

In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent welfare reductions, persons with disabilities are now facing serious risk of poverty, social exclusion and discrimination. More than 1 out of 5 persons without disabilities (21.1%) are at risk of poverty in the EU compared to people with disabilities (14.9%). Moreover, in the UK disabled populations have more than a 25% chance of being at risk of poverty

With this in mind, it should be of concern that disabled persons are losing 10 times their income when compared to other areas of welfare reduction. This includes direct budget cuts for services (averaging 28%); cuts in staffing, pay and conditions; cuts in independent living support (£359m); more standardised and/or institutional services (less individualised); reduced access to employment support and services (wage subsidies removed); and the list goes on.

These reductions fully contradict The European Disability Strategy (2010-2020), which outlines persons with disabilities have the right to participate fully and equally in society and the economy: denial of equal opportunities is a breach of fundamental human rights. Therefore I whole-heartedly support the Written Declaration reinforcing the European Strategy for Persons with Disabilities.

In short, this declaration calls on the Commission to work closely with the Member States for a stronger implementation of the European Disability Strategy (2010-2020). As we do this, it is paramount that we protect and empower our most vulnerable in society. While we have achieved a lot, welfare cuts and discontinued services threaten to undo the hard fought rights of persons with disabilities.