Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about standards of disabled access

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O28th February 2018, Baroness Deech asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they have taken to address the criticism in the 2017 report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the lack of obligatory and implemented accessibility standards in the United Kingdom, in particular in relation to transport and the physical environment.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow-up question: 

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: Does the Minister agree with the UN committee’s concern that not enough is being done to apply the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to involve disabled people themselves in decisions that affect their lives? What have the Government heard from disabled people themselves about the impact of austerity on their access to the physical environment and to housing, transport, information and other services? How will the Minister respond to disabled people’s concerns about the UK’s increasing non-compliance with existing legislation affecting their access to these things—for example, our meeting the obligation to carry out impact assessments and gather statistics about policies likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people?

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about support for students with learning disabilities

On 27th February 2018,Lord Addington asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what consideration they have given to removing the need for candidates for higher education with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities to pay for new assessments for the disabled students’ allowance if they have an existing diagnosis acquired before the age of 16 and a history of support’. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, asked a follow up question about distinguishing learning disabilities from physical and mental disabilities: 

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as I understand it, the Equality Act recognises learning disabilities and other forms of mental and physical disabilities in the same way. Yet until now, the Government’s position has been to separate learning disabilities out into a different category. I welcome this review but can the Minister assure us that it will lay out the basis for that different treatment?

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about future of Motability

stalbans190117On the 30th March 2017 Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked the Government ‘what steps they are taking to support independent living for disabled people of working age’. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a further question relating to the Motability scheme.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Motability scheme is a crucial element for getting people back into work, yet about 50,000 people have lost out on it. What is particularly worrying is that the vast majority of appeals are upheld, by which time those concerned have lost the vehicle and then have to get it again. It is costing a lot of time and money. Would Her Majesty’s Government consider having a scheme whereby people do not lose the vehicle until the end of the appeal process? This would make much more sense where the appeal is upheld. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about future of Motability”

Votes: Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017

On 27th March 2017, two votes took place on a Statutory Instrument introducing changes to the regulations governing Personal Independence Payments. The Bishop of Winchester took part in both divisions.
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Bishop of Chester praises efforts to improve church accessibility

Chester1On 15th March 2017, Baroness Deech asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what plans they have to improve accessibility for disabled people to public premises.’ The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a follow up question on church buildings.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the noble Lord who asked the previous question did not include churches—and with good reason because there have been herculean efforts across the estate involving quite difficult church buildings to make them accessible to people with limited ability to get up steps and so forth. Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to the local efforts, normally paid for locally, which have transformed the access to historic churches? Continue reading “Bishop of Chester praises efforts to improve church accessibility”

Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Oxford supports amendment on disabled student needs

 

On the 6th March 2017, Baroness O’Neill tabled an amendment to the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill at its Report Stage, to strengthen the requirements on universities to take account of the needs of disabled students. The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in support of the amendment, though it was subsequently not put to a vote.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I add my voice in support of Amendment 7 in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and the two related amendments—Amendments 94 and 98—proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

Disabled young people are about half as likely to hold a degree-level qualification as those without a disability. True opportunity of access needs to make certain that everything possible is done to ensure that every student who wishes to partake in further study is able to do so and to succeed to the fullest of their potential with reasonable adjustments being made for them. Continue reading “Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Oxford supports amendment on disabled student needs”

Bishop of St Albans says UK must be a world leader in disability rights, post-Brexit

On 2nd February 2017 Baroness Scott of Needham Market led a debate in the House of Lords “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on disabled people of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

stalbans190117The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I too am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, for giving us the opportunity to reflect on this important subject. For many years, the European Union has been an important driver of disability rights in the UK, helping to improve disability access and strengthen non-discrimination laws right across Europe. It was the European Union that ensured non-discrimination laws were extended to smaller businesses, and the European Court of Justice which extended rights to carers and those in relationships with a disabled person, to name just two examples. With the proposed European Accessibility Act still some time away from implementation, I hope the Minister can understand the fear expressed by many in this House and outside it that a post-Brexit UK may start to fall behind its European counterparts when it comes to disability rights. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans says UK must be a world leader in disability rights, post-Brexit”