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Rights of Disabled People

Volume 633: debated on Monday 18 December 2017

4. What steps his Department is taking to respond to and implement the recommendations in the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, published on 3 October 2017. (902981)

We are committed to improving the lives of disabled people, both in the UK and through our international development work, and we are constructively considering the UN’s recommendations going forward. We intend to provide an update to the UN next summer, as requested.

The UN report specifically called on the Government to repeal the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and to ensure that eligibility criteria in assessments to access PIP, employment and support allowance and universal credit are in line with the human rights model of disability. Will the Minister commit to that today?

We are absolutely committed to disabled people. We are world leaders in disability rights. We were disappointed that the UN did not consider all the information that we provided, and we strongly rebut much of what it had to say. I am sure that the hon. Lady will join me in welcoming the excellent work on reviewing PIP that was published today by Paul Gray, which sets out a whole series of reforms showing that this Government are determined to ensure that we have a benefit system that really supports disabled people.

Not only did the report seemingly fail to recognise that we now spend a record £50 billion on supporting people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, but it also failed to recognise the proactive work with charities and stakeholder groups that helps to shape policies. Will the Minister reconfirm her commitment to that proactive engagement?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I absolutely confirm that I will work with disabled people and organisations that work with disabled people. I pay tribute to the excellent work that my hon. Friend did when he held my position. I am sure that we will continue to build on the work that he did and will ensure that more disabled people have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential in our society.

Will the Minister please consider a root and branch reform of PIP? Someone who came to Feeding Birkenhead was doubly incontinent due to cancer, but she received a nil rating for PIP. While she needed food, she also needed nappies. When she did not turn up after a few days, people went to see how she was, and she was washing babies’ nappies, because she wanted to get about and was too ashamed to come and ask us for more. Is there not something wrong with PIP assessments when those sorts of cases occur?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for raising this very sad case. Clearly something went wrong in that individual case. I look forward to answering questions and spending time with his Select Committee later this week. I point him to the response to Paul Gray’s evaluation of PIP that I published today. I am sure we will have more time to look at that in detail, but we remain utterly committed to making sure that we continue to improve PIP.

At my surgery last week I met Frances, who has cerebral palsy. She made an application to the clinical commissioning group to get e-motion wheels for her wheelchair, which has been denied. Does the Minister agree that ensuring that people have the equipment to enable them to go to work is incredibly important and increases their self-esteem and their ability to contribute to the economy?

My hon. and learned Friend raises an important point. Of course, PIP is a benefit that is available to people in work and out of work, and it is there to support everyone with the additional costs of their disability. Of course, mobility is really important. There is also the excellent Access to Work scheme, which each year is funding more people, enabling them to play their full part in society, including at work.