Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Final version of Equal Citizenship motion

Just as a quick update, after negotiations with the Federal Conference Committee, here is the final version of the Equal Citizenship motion after being amended to meet FCC requirements:

Equal Citizenship: Supporting independence for sick and disabled people 
Conference notes: 
A) The passage of the Welfare Reform Act, particularly:
  • i. Changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
  • ii. The introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) as a
  • replacement for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which is predicated
  • to reduce working age DLA expenditure by 20% by 2015/16, returning
  • expenditure to 2009/10 levels in real terms.
  • iii. The feeling of exclusion from the welfare reform policy development
  • process amongst the disabled community.
  • iv. The conclusions of the report ‘Reversing Recovery’ on the impact of
  • the Welfare Reform Act.
B) The passage of policy motion Employment and Support Allowance and
Work Capability Assessments’ by Autumn Federal Conference 2011.C) The
rise in disability hate crime in recent years as reported in a survey conducted
by the disability charity Scope. 
Conference welcomes: 
A) The introduction of Universal Credit, which ill means test ESA based on
household income rather than the number of hours a claimants partner works,
reducing the number of claimants receiving no means tested ESA.
B) The independent annual reviews of the Work Capability Assessment
(WCA), which determines eligibility for ESA, being conducted by Professor
Malcolm Harrington.
C) The Government’s decision to accept the vast majority of the
recommendations made in the first two annual reviews by Professor
D) The four public consultations held so far on the introduction of PIPs.
E) The Government’s decision to allocate an additional £15 million to the
Access to Work budget as a result of the recommendations of Liz Sayce in
her review of specialist disability employment programmes. 
Conference believes: 
I) That society and government have a duty of care towards sick and disabled
people and that the goals of government policy must be the empowerment of
sick and disabled people in order to tackle and reduce their dependency on
others and, fundamentally, to enable them to enjoy full and equal citizenship.
II) That current welfare policy is failing sick and disabled people and that the
Welfare Reform Act does not do enough to remedy this situation.III) That sick
and disabled people unable to work or unable to find employment should be
supported by the welfare system for as long as they are unable to work or find
employment and that mechanisms such as the current method of time limiting
of contributory ESA are counterproductive and harmful.
IV) The although a variety of organisation, including private sector
organisations, have a role to play in formulating DWP policy, the last Labour
Government relied too heavily on advice from private companies with a
potential financial interest in the outcomes of polices affecting sick and
disabled people.
V) That policies which force sick and disabled people to be dependent on
others may prevent them from being able to enjoy equal citizenship and leads
to exclusion from society.
VI) That further action by government is required to prevent victimisation of
and discrimination against sick and disabled people by employers.
VII) That more needs to be done in society as a whole to remove barriers to
access to employment, transport and participation as equal citizens. 
Conference therefore calls for: 
1. An independent review of the impact of the Welfare Reform Act.
2. A review of WCA assessment centres to ensure they have adequate disabled
access and easy access by public transport or that mechanisms are in place
to provide home visits or alternative assessment venues.
3. The establishment of a public consultation on the assessment mechanisms
for DLA, ESA and PIPs, with special emphasis on eligibility for support for
those with time variant conditions.
4. The results of this consultation to be used by the DWP to reform its sickness
and disability policies.
5. Additional support and effort to be targeted at enabling sick and disabled
people to remain in work and at removing barriers of access to work through
expansions of schemes such as the Access to Work Fund.
6. The Government to ensure that it continues to take a balance approach
to the advice it receives, and that it prioritises the advice of organisations
representing sick and disabled people.
7. The Citizen’s Advice and non profit making advice services to receive
increased government funding during the transitional periods for any future
substantial changes to the welfare system.
8. The Government to examine the impact of means-testing and income-related
support elements of disability welfare policy and, when funds allow, to reform
policy to reduce the number of cases where sick and disabled people are
made dependent on partners and carers and to ensure that, where this does
happen, this does not lead to exclusion from society.
9. A public awareness campaign to tackle prejudice and other attitudes
detrimental to the well-being of sick and the disabled people.
What I'd like to ask you to do now, if you're still reading this, is to get in contact with your local Lib Dem MP and/or local party and ask them to back this motion at autumn conference. I know there's a lot more work to do on disability issues but my hope is that this motion can be the start of a new, clear, consistent and liberal vision on how we support sick and disabled people in a 21st century society.


  1. Brilliant work George,

    I shared your blog post on the wearespartacus FB page, if someone wanted to email thier lib dem MP to ask them to support it do hey need to quote a nmber or just the link to your blog. It would be great to let spartaci know its on the table so they can help you


    1. Thanks very much :)

      If you want to ask a Lib Dem MP to back it just use the title of the motion please and then a link to this blog for the full text - unfortunately the full conference agenda hasn't been published yet. And I'll be incredibly grateful to any spartici who are able to contact their local Lib Dems over this, the more people aware of the motion the better :)


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