Far North Liberal Democrat MP, Jamie Stone, is part of a cross-party campaign calling out the detrimental impact of the Coronavirus Bill on the rights of disabled people.
The Bill currently relaxes the duty on local authorities to meet the social care needs of disabled people, risking leaving them behind at a time of crisis.
Mr Stone joined other MPs to urge Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, to reconsider the removal of safeguards and protect the safety and rights of disabled people.
Commenting, Tabitha Morton, Chief Executive of More United said:
“While it is right that the Government takes emergency action, we have to make sure that this is not at the expense of the most vulnerable in society. The removal of the duty to meet the social care needs of the disabled risks leaving behind those who are most at risk from the epidemic.
“More United is committed to working across party lines, and it is in that spirit we are asking the Health Secretary to think again and ensure we continue to uphold the rights of disabled people.”
More United is the largest cross-party movement in Parliament and has 64 MPs from 6 different parties who, along with 150,000 members, campaign across political lines to protect our shared values.
- Text of the letter and signatories
Dear Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care,
We, the undersigned, would like to express our concern at measures within the Coronavirus Bill that will have a detrimental impact on the lives, rights and civil liberties of Disabled people. At a time of national crisis, we welcome protective emergency action; but we must come together to safeguard the most vulnerable in society, who will be impacted the most.
The suspension of the Care Act 2014, in particular, removing the duty on local authorities to meet Disabled people’s eligible social care needs, will mean that social care provision will become a postcode lottery dependent on the good will of individual local authorities. As well as significantly affecting Disabled people’s equality and inclusion within society, this could pose a real risk to the lives of many people with the highest support needs who will receive no, or the bare minimum of the care they need. It will also have a detrimental impact on NHS resources at the time when they are most needed, as people ready to leave the hospital will not be able to access the social care they need in order to return home.
Furthermore, the removal of safeguards and the extension of time limits the Bill affords the Mental Health Act endangers the civil liberties of Disabled people as it is now even easier for a person to be involuntarily detained. Again, as well as hindering Disabled people’s rights, this will be a further use of NHS resources during a time when they are needed elsewhere because more beds and staff time will have to be spent caring for more people who have been involuntarily detained under the revised legislation.
Finally, Disabled children are likely to have their right to education severely curtailed under the Coronavirus Bill, which removes the duty on schools to admit a Disabled child where the school has been named on their Education, Health and Care Plan. It also allows the Secretary of State to vary provisions of the act, such as the core duty to procure provision set out in an EHCP, so instead of being an absolute duty, it becomes a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty, creating a lesser entitlement for up to two years.
We urge the Secretary of State to reconsider these measures presented in the Coronavirus Bill. Although we are in an unprecedented and urgent situation, Disabled people’s safety, right and civil liberties must be maintained.
Rosie Duffield MP
Alex Sobel MP
Layla Moran MP
Catherine West MP
Daisy Cooper MP
Jamie Stone MP
Hywel Williams MP
Wera Hobhouse MP
Chris Stephens MP
Christine Jardine MP
David Lammy MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Tim Farron MP
Stephen Farry MP
Ed Davey MP