United Nations to investigate if UK welfare reforms violate human rights

United NationsThe United Nations (UN) are to investigate the UK government’s welfare reforms following a complaint that there had “grave and systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights, it has been reported.

Disability charity Inclusion Scotland said that they have been contacted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as part of an investigation into human rights abuses against disabled people in the UK.

The consortium of disability organisations said the UN committee has advised them that they will be sending a Special Rapporteur to the UK in the “near future” as part of their probe.

Director of policy Bill Scott told The Sunday Herald: “The UN have notified us they will be visiting Britain to investigate… and want to meet with us when they come, sometime in the next few months.”

He added: “There are a lot of individuals who are affected by three, four, five - sometimes six or seven different benefit cuts.

“Because disabled people are less likely to be in work, they are more likely to also be reliant on benefits which aren’t specifically for disabled people, but which are claimed by people on low income - like housing benefit and council tax benefit.

“So if there are cuts to those, it affects disabled people disproportionately.”

The UN conducts such investigations “confidentially” and will not confirm or deny if they are currently investigating the UK.

Last year United Nations special envoy Raquel Rolnik urged the government to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’ after concluding the “shocking” policy was a “basic breach of the human right to housing”.

Just last week it was revealed that 2,380 people had died after a work capability assessment found them fit for work and this, as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to further cut support for up to 1 million disabled people – 43 per cent of those who receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Christina McKelvie
Christina McKelvie

The SNP has urged the UK government to fully cooperate with UN investigators.

Christina McKelvie MSP said: “We have consistently raised grave concerns about the impact and extent to which the UK government is prepared to cut support for disabled people – the fact that the United Nations is now set to launch an inquiry into the issue simply underlines the gravity of the situation facing many of the most vulnerable people in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The UK government must fully cooperate with that inquiry.

“The DWP has questions to answer and the Scottish Parliament and its committees should welcome and support any investigation by UN representatives.”

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