Fulfilling potential ecdp response (march 2012) - 1. preamble final


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Fulfilling potential ecdp response (march 2012) - 1. preamble final

  1. 1. Fulfilling Potentialecdp response, March 2012Part 1/4: PreambleThis document forms part one of four of ecdp’s response to the Office for Disability IssuesFulfilling Potential discussion. This preamble outlines ecdp’s take on the context within which theFulfilling Potential discussion is taking and our Wider vision to enhance the everyday lives ofdisabled people.All four parts of the report are available on the ecdp website: www.ecdp.co.uk.For further information on any element of these documents, please contact Rich Watts (Directorof Policy & Development, ecdp) on rwatts@ecdp.co.uk or 01245 392 324.SECTION 1: PREAMBLESections 2 and 3 of our response correspond more directly to the questions posed in FulfillingPotential. We are using the opportunity afforded by the discussion paper, however, to set out inthis Preamble our take on the current disability picture and a positive vision for the contributiondisabled people can make to society.We therefore hope this Preamble places our response in the wider context of our vision toenhance the everyday lives of disabled people and what this means in practice.Specifically, in “To what end?” below, we set out our answer to the question of what will beenough to achieve disability equality. Before that, we reflect on the progress that has been madeover the last generation in working towards disability equality.Life chances of disabled peopleThough there have been many major developments in the drive for disability equality – throughthe 1970s/80s with the advent of Centres for Independent Living, and then from 1995 onwardswith the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act and subsequent legislation – disabledpeople remain amongst the most disadvantaged in society.Some key statistics suggest that the wider change in society that was hoped would flow from agood legislative base have not yet been realised.The employment rate of disabled people increased from 43% in 1997 to 44.5% in 2005 to 48.4%in 2008. However, though the gap compared to the overall employment rate has narrowed from35.6% in 2005 to 31.2% in 2008, the majority of disabled people are not in employment.Furthermore, the average gross hourly pay for disabled employees is £11.08 compared to £12.30for non-disabled employees.In education, 23% of disabled people have no qualifications compared to 9% of non-disabledpeople. There has been a slight increase in the percentage of learners with a learning disabilityparticipating in Further Education, from 10.5% of all learners in 2005/06 to 11.6% in 2006/07 and11.9% in 2007/08, but significant issues relating to disability and education remain.In social care – arguably the focus of most policy relating to disabled (and older) people since2007 – Direct Payments were only made to 6.5% of all people using services – some 115,000Fulfilling Potential – ecdp response, March 2012 Page 1 of 7Part 1/4 : Preamble
  2. 2. adults aged over 18 (2008/09). (This figure includes 29,000 carers, who represent approximately25% of all DP users.)In volunteering, disabled people are significantly less likely to engage in formal volunteering thannon-disabled people: some 21% of disabled people volunteered in 2008 (a decrease from 23% in2001) compared to 27% of non-disabled people in 2008 (itself a decrease from 28% in 2001).Nearly half of all adults who have never used the internet are disabled people. In December2011, 8.2m adults – some 16% of the UK’s adult population – had never used the internet. Ofthese, 3.98m were disabled people. This represents 49% of all those who had never used theinternet and 35% of all disabled adults.But there are some silver linings. For example, figures from 2008/09 show that disabled peopleare significantly more likely to have participated in civic lifei than non-disabled people. In 2008/09,42% of disabled people participated in civic life compared to 37% of non-disabled people. Givencurrent policy drivers, this is encouraging.The disability rights frameworkThe disability rights framework that now exists has undoubtedly been a significant success for thedisability movement. After the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995 – though byno means perfect legislation (with gaps in its coverage, weak protection, and inadequateenforcement provisions) – there followed more significant legislative progress with a furtherDisability Discrimination Act (2005) and the Equality Act (2010), the Direct Payments Act (1996)and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001). Furthermore, in 2007 the UK was asignatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [sic] and ratified it inJune 2009 (with some opt-outs). The overall effect of this legislative framework was one thatmoved from negative compliance with the law to the positive duty to promote equality for disabledpeople.Informing and emanating from this framework were significant structural advances through, forexample, the Disability Rights Task Force (1997-1999), the creation of the Disability RightsCommission (1999-2007) (since becoming the Equality & Human Rights Commission, with itsattendant Disability Committee) and the establishment of the cross-government Office forDisability Issues in 2005.And at least two significant policy drivers contributed to this period through the publication of theStrategy Unit’s Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People Report (2005), which gave rise tothe Independent Living Review (2006-2008) and the subsequent publication of the IndependentLiving Strategy (2008).The positive trend continues to this day in some major areas of policy, with Fulfilling Potentialitself, the SEN Green Paper, continuing personalisation in social care and its wider roll-out inhealth.Nevertheless, though a comprehensive disability rights and policy framework has beenestablished over the last generation, this by itself hasnt been enough to transform disabledpeoples life chances.The question becomes: what will be enough?There is disagreement within the disability movement about what outcome is wanted, let alonewhat is required to get there. ecdp is therefore using the opportunity of Fulfilling Potential to setout some of what we think should be both the outcomes to be achieved for disabled people andthe means by which they will be delivered.Fulfilling Potential – ecdp response, March 2012 Page 2 of 7Part 1/4 : Preamble
  3. 3. In doing so, we aim to look beyond the current economic circumstances whilst being mindful oftheir current effects. We hope and expect that Fulfilling Potential will lay foundations for 50 years’time, not 5 years’.Means: working in partnership and across boundariesThe disability movement must continue to have the relevance and success that has led to thechanges of the last 30 years.We feel there is limited awareness that the field of disability has been a major driver andinnovator when it comes to public service reform. To take just one example: Direct Paymentsand personalisation are the direct results of work done by disabled people and their organisationsthat has led to significant swathes of public service reform. The Right to Control is literallyTrailblazing a similar path.Such changes as are happening to public services now – including the continued transformationof adult social care, health reform, the shift in power to the most local level possible, and creatinga partnership between the individual and the state rather than the state doing everyone on behalfof an individual – are ones that disabled people should again fundamentally contribute to anddrive.For this to happen, the disability movement should broaden its horizon to think not just aboutdisability questions by themselves but to contribute to national debates and developments –forging strategic alliances with relevant organisations, becoming expert advisers and partners to arange of other sectors, including (but not limited to) government at a central and local level.This builds on the notion that the disability movement alone can’t secure the reform orredistribution needed to promulgate disability equality in the wider public sector and society as awhole. It suggests the disability movement can’t afford to operate in a disability silo nor affordtime to retreat back to theoretical questions of identity alone if it is to be successful in meetingthe challenges ahead.Means: an ‘all or nothing’ Campaigning approach?Campaigning clearly has its place in a democratic society. We sometimes wonder whether theway in which this Campaigning (note – big ‘C’) happens is useful.Let us take two very difficult, but very current and controversial examples of present or potentialgovernment policy: welfare reform and assisted dying. What is clear in both of these cases is that,if the disability movement takes a purely oppositionalist and adversarial approach to theseintentions – especially when accompanied by no alternative solution other than the status quo –then the final result is likely to be much worse overall for disabled people. Instead – whilstrecognising the broad direction of travel – we need to work with legislators and officials to enablethem to understand the impact such policies would have on disabled people and support them tomitigate or minimise these effects.Fulfilling Potential – ecdp response, March 2012 Page 3 of 7Part 1/4 : Preamble
  4. 4. As such, we advocate that it cannot be an ‘all or nothing approach’ to promoting disability equalitybut one in which we, as disabled people and disabled people’s organisations, must work inpartnership with other organisations (including at all levels of government) to achieve betteroutcomes for everyone, including disabled people.To what end?Even if the means of Campaigning, for example, were right, what about the ends that such anapproach seeks to achieve?Contemporary views of the modern welfare state are illustrative. Such views often appear – or are– contradictory, as captured by a well-known disability campaigner: It is perhaps ironic that many of us spent the 1970s criticising the welfare state, only to find that these arguments were built upon and taken much further by a government determined to reduce state expenditure. Consequently we spent the 1980s defending what we had previously attacked. In sum, we defended the indefensible[.]iiSimilarly, some people argue that disabled people should be ‘left alone’ by the state when itcomes to reforms, calling upon issues of ‘sickness’ or ‘vulnerability’ by way of justification. To takeone manifestation of this: regarding employment, some people ask that whole groups of disabledpeople are deemed de facto unfit to work because of their impairment or long-term healthcondition – the sort of a priori judgment that would rightly be considered discrimination.Such views – from our perspective – contribute to a lingering sense of disabled people asrecipients of charity, or people who should be left alone and looked after / protected by the state.They don’t tally with ecdp’s views of the sort of society disabled people should be an equal partof; nor do they tally with prevailing views in the ways issues like disability hate crime, for example,are being successfully addressed.Thus, to answer our own question: what will be enough?We believe government should operate, and all citizens be encouraged to behave, such thatdisabled people have the support required and same access to opportunities as non-disabledpeople to participate fully as equal citizens.A fundamental building block of this is an enabling state – one which isn’t just a safety net, butone that provides a positive platform for disabled people to achieve their greater goals. Thisrequires a ‘welfare’ state, in the broadest sense of the term ‘welfare’.Jenny Morris has put it most eloquently, most recently, building on a history of such thinking inthe disability movement: In order to experience equal access to full citizenship, disabled people therefore require some kind of collective and redistributive mechanism to provide theFulfilling Potential – ecdp response, March 2012 Page 4 of 7Part 1/4 : Preamble
  5. 5. additional requirements needed. Moreover, such redistribution needs to be in the context of a value system which values diversity and where disabled people are treated as belonging and contributing to the communities in which they live. iiiFor us, such an enabling state would have the following sorts of characteristics:• It must be recognised that the state isn’t just about questions of welfare benefits, or social care entitlements, or free transport passes or blue badges. It is about providing an equal platform for disabled people to make their own contribution• We wish for a system – whether in principle or in practice – in which all different entitlements and support are drawn together around the individual. Fulfilling Potential is an opportunity to look at an individual first and to see how all of the different and complex systems (and their associated bureaucracies) interact to make things happen or get in the way. We wish for the opportunity to take Right to Control to its logical conclusion across all public provision• Such a system would be coproduced: its design would be done with disabled people, decisions made about it done with disabled people, its delivery would be done with and through disabled people, and its review would be carried out with disabled people.Such an enabling state would be one that works in partnership with an individual, rather thandoes things unto them. To do this, it must:• Recognise disabled people are experts in their own lives• Offer as much choice and control as possible to disabled people at as many junctures as possible• Recognise, develop and utilise the capabilities of disabled people.Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations (like ecdp) clearly have a role to play in such anenabling state. We have set out what we think that role is, and how we think it can be delivered,in our substantial answer to question 11 in Section 3.Section 2, however, shares the views and lived experiences of our members and disabled peopleacross Essex, who have identified ways in which the current system does and doesn’t work, andsuggested what the enabling state could look like, and ways that it can be achieved.Fulfilling Potential – ecdp response, March 2012 Page 5 of 7Part 1/4 : Preamble
  6. 6. Fulfilling Potential – ecdp response, March 2012 Page 6 of 7Part 1/4 : Preamble
  7. 7. i Here “civic life” includes undertaking at least one of the following activities in the previous 12 months: contact acouncillor, local official, government official or MP; attending public meeting or rally; taking part in demonstrationor signing petition.ii Mike Oliver Speaking out: disabled people and state welfare 1991, quoted by Neil Crowther:http://www.neilcrowtherconsulting.com/blog.phpiii Jenny Morris: Rethinking Disability Policy, November 2011: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/rethinking-disability-policy