2023 Evidence Session

Convention on the Rights of Disabled People 2023

Watch our evidence session

We are part of a coalition of UK DDPOs (Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations) who wrote a report for the UN (United Nations).

The coalition includes: All Wales People First, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Black Triangle, Disability Action (Northern Ireland), Disabled People Against Cuts, Disability Rights UK, Disability Wales, DPO Forum England, Inclusion London, Inclusion Scotland, Liberation, Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Scottish DPOs and from Northern Ireland, 1849 individuals and 335 member organisations.

We all gave evidence to the UN on Monday 28th August 2023, between 9-11am UK time. This is 10am-12pm in Geneva, Switzerland. Watch the session back: https://webtv.un.org/en/asset/k1o/k1o8b7239p

The speeches are interpreted into International Sign Language, spoken French, Spanish and Arabic. Live captions in English are embedded into the video. One speech can be watched in British Sign Language, as well as the other meeting languages.

How to get involved

DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) have put together an excellent post explaining how you can get involved. Let’s make sure that everyone hears what disabled people have to say!

2023 report

You can read our 2023 report:

Our 2023 report is an update from our last report in 2022. You can view the 2022 report, including BSL and Easy Read versions, here.

Follow the action on social media



The Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, 2023. Make sure to get the letters the right way around, so you can be a part of the conversation!


Minister for Disabled People, Tom Pursglove, is missing. The UK Government was supposed to be giving evidence in Geneva with us, but they haven’t submitted anything and won’t be attending. Help us find him by suggesting places he might be, with the hashtag #WheresTom.

Media coverage

Government side-stepping UN examination ‘shows contempt for disabled people’

Ministers skip UN meeting on disability rights – BBC News

Minister not at UN shows how little Tories want to protect disabled people – Daily Mirror

People ask #WheresTom after a Tory minister no-shows a UN meeting on disabled people’s rights – The Canary

Sunak’s Government Accused of ‘Hiding’ from Damning United Nations Inquiry on Treatment of Disabled People

The NUJ Disabled Members’ Council sends solidarity to UK disability activists

Press releases

1. Government hides from UN over treatment of disabled people (Word document)

Government hides from UN over treatment of disabled people


Disability organisations have criticised the government’s decision not to give evidence to a United Nations inquiry as showing contempt for disabled people.

The inquiry evidence session, taking place in Geneva on 28 August, is part of a follow up to the special investigation carried out by the UN’s committee responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

The report from that investigation published in November 2016 confirmed that the threshold for grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform and austerity measures had been met.

Issues that the investigation looked at included, among others: the closure of the Independent Living Fund, which supported disabled people with high needs to live in the community; the introduction of the bedroom tax which mainly hit disabled tenants; the role of benefit sanctions in the deaths and suicides of disabled claimants; and the introduction of the Work Capability Assessment, which became the subject of the award-winning film I, Daniel Blake.

Martha Foulds from the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts described “The UK government’s failure to provide an update to the committee” as “the latest demonstration of their contempt for Deaf and disabled people.”

She added: “The government should put its effort into implementing the committee’s recommendations rather than its current commitment to cuts, enflaming hostility against benefit claimants and culture wars.”

The session will still hear from Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) from across the UK and from the respective equality and human rights commissions.

DDPOs are clear that the situation since 2016 has deteriorated further for Deaf and disabled people.

Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said: “The evidence is stark  – there continues to be significant retrogression of disabled people’s rights since the 2016 special inquiry.

“Having gathered hundreds of pages of evidence over the last 18 months, DDPOs, including Inclusion London, are united in the view that the UK government has not implemented the UN committee’s recommendations to protect our rights.

“Far from it – they have made the situation even worse for disabled people than it was in 2016.

“We will be sharing our evidence and our experiences with the UN disability committee. If our under-funded and over-stretched organisation can gather, collate and provide evidence then why can’t the UK government?”

Deaf and disabled people in the devolved nations are dismayed that the Westminster government is avoiding scrutiny over issues on which they hold reserved powers, such as social security payments, that very directly and too often detrimentally impact their lives.

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales, said: “The UK Government’s non-attendance at the review session reveals very clearly that the Westminster Government has little that is positive to report and as evidenced in Disability Wales own shadow report, has in fact regressed further on disability equality.

“The austerity regime introduced and cruelly sustained by successive UK Governments has had a devastating impact on disabled people in Wales, increasing poverty, worsening mental health and fuelling hate crime.”

For Northern Ireland there is the added political crisis now threatening the lives of Deaf and disabled people through imposition of an austerity budget that will see disability support services slashed.

Nuala Toman, head of policy at Disability Action, said: “Northern Ireland is currently experiencing austerity in overdrive with public services being cut at an alarming rate.

“It is essential that the Westminster Government takes action to restore government in Northern Ireland and allocates sufficient resources to Northern Ireland for the delivery of public services.

“The UK Government has shown complete disregard for the lives and rights of disabled people in Northern Ireland by refusing to attend the hearing.”

UK Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations will launch the shadow report they submitted to the special inquiry follow up on Monday 28 August to coincide with the UN evidence session.


For more information contact:

Ellen Clifford 07505144371 ellenclifford277@gmail.com

Nuala Toman nualatoman@disabilityaction.org



  • In 2022 the UK DDPO Coalition published a shadow report under all articles of the Convention which found evidence of further retrogression of Deaf and disabled people’s rights. Among many other issues it highlighted the over-representation of disabled people among mortality statistics both directly linked to COVID and for additional deaths during the pandemic, and raised the unlawful use of Do Not Resuscitate notices on the medical notes of disabled people.


2. Report finds worsening violations of disabled people’s rights (Word document)

Report finds worsening violations of disabled people’s rights


UK Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations have today launched a scathing report evaluating the government’s performance seven years on from a United Nations finding of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights due to austerity and welfare reform.

Kamran Mallick, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK said, “The evidence is clear, the situation has worsened for Disabled people since the report in 2016. Disabled people have and continue to pay with their lives.

“The UK Government has made no attempt to respond in a positive way to the findings, and time and again refuses to engage with Disabled people and our organisations in a meaningful way.”

The findings published in November 2016 were the outcome of a special inquiry initiated by the United Nations Committee responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

The new report compiled as written evidence for a follow up by the Committee describes how disabled people’s living standards have deteriorated further since 2016.

Continued cuts to support for disabled people living in the community have led to disabled people becoming segregated away from society from within their own homes.

A recent report by a disabled people-led Commission in Lewisham found that 20% of respondents didn’t always have access to food and drink, could not wash (or be washed) regularly and couldn’t go to the toilet when needed.

Social care charging is pushing thousands into debt or forcing disabled people to pull out of support they need. The last comprehensive research undertaken found 166,000 disabled people in social care arrears to their local council. A recent BBC investigation found 60,000 disabled people had debt proceedings started against them by their government.

“We are living in dire circumstances,” said Dr Jim Elder-Woodward, Convenor of Inclusion Scotland, “isolated, trapped at home or in institutions; cold, hungry, and humiliated. Despite the Scottish Government saying they want to hear from those “with lived experience” in the development of their plans and policies, our human rights continue to be denied.”

Added to further regression under issues originally investigated by the inquiry, disabled people have now also experienced adverse consequences from Brexit exacerbating the social care recruitment crisis and been disproportionately hit by both COVID and the current cost of living crisis.

Megan Thomas, policy and research officer at Disability Wales said, “The high levels of poverty in Wales, the cost-of-living crisis, and the aftermath of COVID-19 have resulted in disabled people not having access to suitable accommodation, not being able to enjoy their right to the support they need, and in some cases, disabled people have lost their lives.”

The political crisis in Northern Ireland is yet another factor causing avoidable harm to disabled people: the austerity budget imposed on Northern Ireland in response to its lack of government will see services and funding for disabled people slashed.

Nuala Toman, head of policy at Disability Action said: “The inadequate budget allocated to Northern Ireland from Westminster has resulted in a severe cuts programme which is shredding public services at an alarming rate with a severe and disproportionate impact on disabled people.

“The Cost of Living Emergency combined with inadequate disability benefits and barriers in accessing work has resulted in increasing numbers of disabled people becoming reliant on food banks.

“All of this is occurring in the absence of a functioning Government.  Urgent action is required to protect the lives and rights of disabled people.”

The report also highlights the serious threat of further grave and systematic rights violations posed by recent plans announced by the government to intensify and expand the benefit sanctions regime and to scrap the current system of out of work benefits for disabled people unable to earn a living through paid employment.

Around 632,000 disabled people are at risk of losing essential income as a result of these plans.

More than a quarter of those who will be affected by the introduction of in work conditionality – where claimants on low incomes in receipt of benefit top ups will be required to look for higher paid jobs or more hours of work under threat of benefit stoppages if they do not comply – are disabled.

Many of these low paid workers will struggle to increase their working hours and/or face barriers to the job search activities they will be required to undertake such as digital exclusion.

The launch of the report has been timed to coincide with the Committee hearing evidence in Geneva from UK Deaf and disabled representatives and UK equality and human rights commissions. The government has decided not to attend.

John McArdle, founder of the Black Triangle campaign, said, “The government won’t attend because they haven’t got a hope of putting up a credible defence as they seek to compound their abuses and abrogation of the Convention.

“Rather than working with disabled people to ensure a rigorous and safe system that doesn’t cause avoidable harm to the most disadvantaged members of society, it has made its decision to scrap the Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a system that is guaranteed to be far, far worse and lethal.”

The report follows publication last week by the UK equality and human rights commissions of their own evaluation which found the government has made little or no progress on each of the Committee’s eleven recommendations.

Contacts for more information:

UK and England – Ellen Clifford – 07505144371 – ellenclifford277@gmail.com

Northern Ireland – Greta Gurklyte 07771928107 – gretagurklyte@disabilityaction.org

Scotland – John McArdle – 07725176417 – mcardle.john77@gmail.com

Wales – Megan Thoman – 07824366951 – megan.thomas@disabilitywales.org


1)      Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations are fully run and controlled by Deaf and Disabled people ourselves. DDPOs involved in the UK report include Black Triangle, Disabled People Against Cuts, Disability Action, Disability Rights UK, Disability Wales, DPO Forum England, Inclusion London, Inclusion Scotland, Liberation, Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance.

2)      The report will go live here: https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/uncrdp/crdp23/crdp23/

3)      You can find a link to the special inquiry report and recommendations here: https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/uncrdp/special-inquiry/special-inquiries/

4)      Lewisham Disabled People’s Commission report on social care: https://lewisham.gov.uk/-/media/0-mayor-and-council/community-support/extension-social-care-for-disabled-people-in-lewisham–yes.ashx

5)      GMB social care debt investigation: https://www.gmb.org.uk/news/least-166000-trapped-social-care-debt

6)      BBC social care debt investigation: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-64668729

7)      The evidence session will be livestreamed from 9 – 11am on Monday 28 August here: https://media.un.org/en/webtv/schedule/2023-08-28

8)      Press release for the government’s decision not to attend in August: https://dpac.uk.net/2023/08/press-release-government-hides-from-un-over-treatment-of-disabled-people/

9)      Link to the report from the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/progress-disability-rights-united-kingdom-2023