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To: The government

Covid19 Bill - Disabled and vulnerable adults and children

Remove proposals in the draft Bill which seeks to dilute the legal obligations and safeguards for disabled and vulnerable adults and children.

Why is this important?

Dear Prime Minister

I believe that the #CoronaVirusBill presents a real and present danger to the lives of disabled people. The government’s plans for disabled children and adults during the crisis are effectively rolling back 30 years of progress for disabled people. The government’s plans are to:

remove disabled people’s rights to social care
change the duties to meet children’s educational requirements to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty
attack the civil liberties of disabled people and erode their rights to support
I am asking the government to work closely with disabled people’s organisations and families of disabled people to protect their human rights in a time of crisis.

I implore you to fight for the hard fought rights of disabled children, young people and adults and their families and to amend the schedules in the Bill that remove social care and SEND duties and threaten the civil liberties of disabled people.

To explain my reasons for writing to you, please see my understanding of negative social implications of the #CoronaVirusBill on the lives of disabled people and their families:

Yours sincerely
Maxine Pieri

What does it mean for disabled adults?

The Bill suspends every duty in the Care Act, 2014, including the duty to meet the eligible needs of disabled people (Section 18) and their carers (Section 20). Under the #CoronaVirus Bill, Local Authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’ for the purposes of avoiding a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). There is no human right to social care or positive obligation under the ECHR to meet care needs.

Other changes set to be introduced through the #CoronaVirusBill will allow health bodies to delay carrying out an assessment for eligibility for NHS continuing care

What does it mean for disabled children and young people?

Duties for young people transitioning to adult social care have also been suspended.

The Secretary of State for Education will have power to disapply the duty on schools and other institutions to admit a child to a school where they are named on an EHCP. The Secretary of State will be able 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.

What about the Mental Health Act?

The power to recommend individuals be detained under the Mental Health Act will be implemented using one doctor’s opinion instead of two, making it easier for people to be detained.

The proposed bill will temporarily allow the extension or removal of time limits in mental health legislation which means individuals might be released into the community early, or find themselves detained for longer.

Under section 5, emergency detention for people already in hospital would extend from 72 hours to 120 hours, and nurses’ holding powers would extend from 6 to 12 hours. Under sections 135 and 136, police powers to detain a person found in need of immediate care at a “place of safety” will extend from 24 hours to 36 hours. Under section 35/36, the cap on how long someone can be held in hospital while awaiting a report (currently 12 weeks) will be lifted.

What about the rights of disabled people?

Local authorities will have a duty to uphold disabled people’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, BUT the threshold for a breach, in terms of not providing care and support is high, which means that disabled people will be left without care and support. Lack of care and support will have a significant impact on disabled people’s well-being, but may not be considered to reach the threshold for their human rights to have been breached – they will NOT have a right to care and support.

Sources of information

Watch @stevebroach, Public Law Barrister talk about the impact of the Bill here:

Read this Twitter thread for more information:

Statement from National User Survivor Network:

Current hashtags: #CoronaVirusBill #CoronavirusBillUK

United Kingdom

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2020-03-23 15:25:26 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2020-03-22 22:18:32 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2020-03-22 09:39:48 +0000

500 signatures reached

2020-03-21 19:42:03 +0000

100 signatures reached

2020-03-21 17:40:41 +0000

50 signatures reached

2020-03-21 17:10:12 +0000

25 signatures reached

2020-03-21 16:53:48 +0000

10 signatures reached