Brexit: What does it mean for Deaf and Disabled people living in the Welfare State?
by Michaela Aitken
Today I received some disability news that reminded me we are living in unprecedented times; another disability provider has had to close its doors due to funding withdrawal. Its clients and customers now left with a solitary advice line but no news of hope.
The impact of Brexit is already upon us, the Welfare State is already suffering and we still have 38 days to go (from date of publishing), before we see just how much our foundations that uphold and support equality will come apart.
All of us concerned for equality and respect across all people know the UK progress timeline:
1942 William Beveridge report, gave the UK people hope for a better life
1945-1951 Successful end to the second world war the Welfare State was born
1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1966 UK signs up to the recognition of the European Court of Human Rights
1973 Britain along with Denmark and Ireland join the EEC
1995 Disability Discrimination Act takes hold
1998 Human Rights Act received Royal assent
2003 BSL is recognised as a Language after tireless campaigns
2008 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD)
2010 Equality Act reaffirms the 9 protected characteristics
All these pieces of legislation provide a framework towards equality for Deaf and Disabled people, to be respected and acknowledged on an equal footing within our larger community groups.
However, will Britain continue to honour and work towards improving equality after Brexit, or are the holes in these historic valuable legislative foundations being used to help plug gaps in the mercurial economic UK position.
As we know in 2015, before Brexit, there was a massive stone held above our collective heads! The UK’s welfare state was facing £3bn in cuts. Well, they call them savings, but you can’t save what you don’t have. Those living hand to mouth know that more than anyone.
The biggest impact to the Deaf and Disabled Communities, and to individuals were changes to programmes run by Communities and Local Government who faced £230M of ‘savings’, Work and Pensions £105m again in ‘savings’ but now, now we are directly under the shadow of the Brexit weight, what does this mean.
Since the circus of a referendum in 2016, there have been a cascading number of cuts from parks and museums to more essential services such as waste collection and Deaf / Disability specialised local help.
Daily as Brexit fast approaches more and more irrational cuts are being made, day centres closed, social care cut, equality in the workplace compromised and our disabled children without equal and quality education – please don’t set them back to 1942!
No matter the effort and commitment derived from the historical framework of this great country, the reactionary government is using loopholes to make ‘savings’ in a feeble effort to cover the consequences they are perpetuating leading to an outcome no one can know. They can’t see the end game as they have lost connection with the people. The people that William Beveridge referred to in his report back in 1942. Cradle to Grave services as we know them will be shamefully compromised or even worse wiped out.
Deal or no deal the hysteria orbiting Brexit has already begun affecting our shores and when that massive stone is dropped into the English Channel, we cannot fathom the destruction to Deaf and Disabled lives that the economic tidal wave will leave in its wake.
For me, further cuts as a result of ‘savings’ to bail the water out of parliament and the daily bad decisions being unjustly made will ultimately make life harder for us, let alone allow equality for all to survive.