On 8 December, WinVisible was among disability organisations, union and other representatives invited to a Roundtable discussion with Labour leader Keir Starmer MP, Marsha de Cordova (Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities) and Vicky Foxcroft MP (Shadow Minister for Disabled People) on Zoom to put forward recommendations towards Labour’s national disability strategy.
Topics included how disabled people’s organisations should be consulted, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a legal framework to uphold our rights, the pay gap and lack of accessibility for disabled employees, the importance of social care support, the National Independent Living Support Service and changes to benefits.
Here is WinVisible’s statement, we had two minutes to speak so had to keep it short.
“Thank you Marsha, hello everyone, hello Vicky.” [Keir Starmer had left the meeting by this time.]
“For those who don’t know WinVisible, we’re based in Keir Starmer’s constituency, in Kentish Town at the Crossroads Women’s Centre. His senior caseworker knows our casework quite well, including a lot of benefit rights work with disabled women.”
We have a lot of policy statements which we can send on (to the MPs). I would urge everyone to oppose Jeremy Hunt’s agenda for social care in the future, coming out of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
There has been a cull of older women in care homes – this is no accident. The COVID measures, including DNAR — “Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate”, have taken away our right to life. The Coronavirus Act takes away Care Act duties – Labour must oppose that and should not have abstained. The Rights for Residents campaign is pressing for family carers to have key worker status.
There is no independent living without other people, but the trusted friends and family who we want to be involved in our care and support – alongside free services — have had a raw deal and are penalised financially. We want Carers Allowance to be a living wage, based on justice, not a penny-pinching hourly rate — and to be extended to all mothers in general. Financial recognition enables women to opt in or out, be part-time, or whatever. We support the Green New Deal for Europe Care Income for people and planet, which includes all environmental work.
Low-income mothers, families of colour, single mothers are targeted by social services — having children taken away. Disabled mothers are particularly discriminated against and are denied Care Act support for caring responsibilities for a child – which is against the law. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes disabled women’s right to found a family (Article 23).
We support Stay Safe East proposals on the Domestic Abuse Bill to protect disabled women and widen who counts as domestic abusers. Care charges are forcing women to drop out of services and to rely on acquaintances who become abusive.
We want abolition of No Recourse to Public Funds and an end to the hostile environment which denies benefits and housing based on immigration status. We want the MPs here to back Osime Brown and his mother Joan in their campaign against his deportation – over 300,000 people have signed the petition.