WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

“Equalities watch dog in crisis”

Is the front page headline in today's Guardian (28.04.09.). The story tells us there is a fourth key person resignation threatened and that key person is Sir Bert Massie who headed one of the predecessor organisations, The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) – a body that had been doing excellent work before it was absorbed into the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Autumn 2007.

As a long time campaigner for disability rights, I had frequently used the advice of and information from the DRC, especially to do with their work in implementing and promoting the statutory requirement in the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 for every public body to set up and practice within a Disability Equality Scheme (DES). Indeed, at the time of their demise the DRC were hotly pursuing central government departments because they had neglected to establish their own DESs. It is important to note here that the DRC was embarrassing the Government by their effectiveness in carrying out their duties and had been doing so in other spheres of activity.

In 2007, the DRC had confirmed for me that private and independent organisations contracted by local authorities, NHS trusts, police authorities etc. to do their work for them are, crucially, bound by the commissioning body's DES.

Just as the DRC was dissolved and the EHRC established, in a continuation of exploratory work of the same order, I mailed a query to the new EHRC helpline asking, along with another question, were local authority eligibility criteria for the provision of services for vulnerable people in breach of the Disability Equality Duty in general? (see PPlog entry for 11.11.07 and 22.11.07.)

I received no answer; and I received no answer. And I eventually got a letter from an EHRC lawyer which walked around the houses but gave me no response to my original question (see PPlog entries 01.01.08. and 25.01.08.).

Just from reading behind and beyond the propaganda leading up to the establishment of the EHRC and evaluating the various pronouncements by the appointed EHRC chair, Trevor Phillips, I had already concluded the EHRC is a political tactic aimed at nobbling the effectiveness of the original separate disability, race and gender equality bodies by stopping them in their tracks and squashing them up into an amorphous lump presided over by someone who is said to be a government puppet pandering to the rights of businessmen and financiers.

And there has been a similar spin off designed, in my opinion, to obscure access to rights by generalised gobbledegook. Disability issues and rights, Race issues and rights, Gender equality issues and rights are all different. Yet, as I write, public bodies are busy condensing their DESs, their Race Equality Schemes and their Gender Equality Schemes into one global equality scheme; obfuscating by amalgamation just as the Government did by setting up the EHRC.

It looks to me like Sir Bert Massie and the others have probably known very well what has been going on but have worked until now to try to make positive changes internally. It will be interesting to see if the disability rights movement has the independent momentum to burst out of these political shackles.


CEHR said...

Of course we have our critics, in an area as complex as ours, where a fair and equal society is the business of everyone, we would expect nothing less. The recent announcements about the departures of Nicola Brewer, Kay Hampton and Patrick Diamond are in no way related. We're proud of what we've achieved in the last 18 months, from the grant programme distributing £10.5m to grass roots organisations; the helpline which takes thousands of calls a month; more than 90 legal actions to protect and extend rights for everyone (here’s three examples: David Allen, Sharon Coleman, Jason Smith); undertaking our duties under Section 16 of the Equality Act 2006 and a series of substantial reports (see here, here, here, here and here) aimed at providing new policy solutions to long running issues around fairness and human rights. We will always listen to what others have to say about our performance but after 18 months, we believe our record of achievement gives us the firm foundation to move Britain towards a future where everyone can be their best whatever their characteristic or background.

Mandy said...

I never thought I'd say this but roll on a Tory Government and I say this because I sincerely hope they dissolve all the damn quangos and either replace them with proper monitoring bodies or nothing at all (thus not wasting ridiculous amounts of money on useless paper pushers).

My MP is Tory and seems to be one of the few people locally who has clocked that the MH service is in a mess and is trying to do something about it...sadly, he is in a minority, at present. He is going to get my vote.

And if this sounds like a party political broadcast, I don't care. I am a completely disillusioned socialist who hates what 'New Labour' have done since they have been in power.


The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

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