Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

4.1 The impact of austerity

Just seven years after Valuing People was published, the financial crash of 2008 happened. The squeeze on funding for public services that followed made it very difficult for even the most progressive local authorities and services to support people with learning disabilities in the way they wanted.

Activity 7 Service cuts

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes
  1. Watch this next video of Professor De Shutter (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) speaking about the impact of austerity on the lives of people with learning disabilities. Then answer the question that follows.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 10
Skip transcript: Video 10

Transcript: Video 10

NARRATOR
In June 2016, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights found Britain to be in breach of its international rights obligations by the disproportionate effect of austerity measures upon the poorest, most in need, and disabled people of the UK. UN Special Reporter Professor De Schutter is on the committee responsible for analysing the evidence and preparing the UN report.
PROF. DE SCHUTTER
The Welfare Reform and Work Act of 2016 have led, for the first time in its history, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to launch a formal inquiry into the situation in the UK. And there was evidence of a flagrant and systematic violation of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So this is very unique. It's an unprecedented use by the Committee of that to the inquiry procedure, which can only be used in the most extreme situations.
End transcript: Video 10
Video 10
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What were some of the terms used by Professor De Shutter (UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) to describe the situation in the UK in 2016?

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Answer

You may have been surprised, or even shocked to hear some of the words used by Professor De Shutter. He talked about the ‘flagrant and systematic violation’ of people’s rights in Britain, which was ‘very unique’ and ‘unprecedented’. He said it was an ‘extreme situation’.

  1. Now watch the next video about the situation of people with learning disabilities in residential care. Then complete the drag and drop activity that follows.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 11
Skip transcript: Video 11

Transcript: Video 11

ROB GREIG
The prevailing model of housing and support for people with learning disabilities in this country is residential care. But the residential care legislation that we have results in people immediately having a number of rights taken away from them when they move into a residential care home. So for example, they could be moved out of that house at the whim of a local authority or a care provider because someone else needs it for cost reasons.
They have no say over who goes in and out the front door of that house, over who supports them. They can't decide to have people to stay overnight if they wanted to. So what happens to relationships? If a person wants to get a job, the benefits system around residential care effectively prohibits that happening. So a whole series of rights are immediately compromised by the prevailing legislative framework for supporting disabled people. Those kinds of things need to be looked at as part of the government's response to this report on the convention.
End transcript: Video 11
Video 11
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Match each situation with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) rights that might be compromised when a person lives in residential care.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Article 19: right to live where and with who you want

  2. Article 22: right to privacy

  3. Article 21: right to say what you want and access information

  4. Article 23: right to a home, family, marriage and relationships

  5. Article 27: right to work

  • a.The person has no say over who supports them

  • b.The person has no say who comes in and out of the front door

  • c.The benefits system in residential care stops people from working

  • d.The person has no say over whether someone can stay over

  • e.The person can be moved out of their house by a care provider or local authority because someone else needs it for cost reasons

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = e
  • 2 = b
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = d
  • 5 = c

Cuts to funding and changes to the benefits system have been pretty devastating for some people with learning disabilities in recent years. As this activity has shown, people’s lives continue to be restricted by systems and policies that they have no control over. In the next section, you will consider the impact of attitudes.

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