The difference #LBBill will make
I am re-posting here the post I wrote for Justice for LB, explaining why I think #LBBill is so important as part of the campaign for disability rights. I would be very grateful if everyone who agrees could take five minutes to contact their MP and ask them to support the Bill. It will take multiple contacts from campaign supporters to persuade MPs that this is an important issue.
It is such a thrill to see the map of the UK turning green as Justice for LB supporters contact their MPs to ask them to support #LBBill, the proposed new law to reinforce disabled people’s right to live in the community with choices equal to others.
Getting the Bill to this stage has involved the collective wisdom of a huge number of passionate and committed people. We have had input on the content of the Bill from disabled people’s organisations, individual disabled people, families, carers, friends and allies. The text of the second draft of the Bill is much improved from its first draft, with a stronger rights focus including implementation of the right to independent living in Article 19 of the UN Disability Convention.
There are some ideas in the bill that can be traced back to one individual, like Mark Neary’s original idea that all placements made by the state should be subject to approval, which is reflected in Clause 5. Others have emerged from the free-flowing discussion, debate and dialogue that has characterised the process so far.
We had hoped to have more time to debate Draft 2, it’s my fault we don’t, because I’d thought the ballot for private members’ bills was in July, whereas in fact it is on 4 June. This is the kind of mistake that would get a professional campaigner fired, but as we are all volunteers and no-one’s in charge I’ll probably get away with it. Apologies nonetheless.
So the key action now is to get as many MPs as possible informed about and supportive of the Bill, so that when we know the outcome of the ballot we have the best chance of getting a high-ranking MP to sponsor the Bill (see the #LBBill process post for a more detailed explanation of this).
One of the question supporters are likely to be asked by MPs and their staff is what difference would #LBBill make, and in particular, wasn’t this all dealt with last year in the Care Act 2014? The short answer to these questions is, a huge difference, and no. A more compelling answer to the difference question has been given by Sara Ryan in an amazing post as part of this Week 10 of #107days.
So I’ll take the lawyer’s question, which is why the Care Act isn’t enough.
I’ll be the first to agree that the Care Act is a step forward. The well-being duty in Section 1 has the potential to transform the approach to how social care is provided to disabled people. However, the Care Act is an act about social care, it says nothing about the NHS services that many disabled people need. It also falls far short of implementing a right to independent living.
In particular the Care Act doesn’t do any of these things which #LBBill would do:
- Require the state to ensure that all disabled people can live in their community, with choices equal to others and the support necessary to ensure their full inclusion and participation in the community (Clause 1)
- Expressly reject any idea of capping expenditure on care at home at the level of the cost of residential care (Clause 2). This is likely already to be unlawful but it is known that this practice goes on and it should be outlawed.
- Require the state to secure in every area a sufficient supply of community support, and to make sure disabled people are employed to plan and commission these services (Clause 3)
- Ensure that the most appropriate living arrangement is made for every disabled person who needs state help, which will generally be the arrangement they choose (Clause 4)
- Require appropriate approval of all living arrangements made by the state (Clause 5)
- Require reporting on all living arrangements made by the state, to create the disinfecting effect of sunlight which is so badly lacking at present (Clause 6)
- Make the Mental Capacity Act 2005 more respectful of the rights of disabled people and their carers, as a prelude to proper systemic reform of the MCA (Clause 7)
- Take people with learning disabilities and autism out of the scope of the civil sections of the Mental Health Act 1983 (Clause 8)
- Ensure the provision of appropriate community mental health services to people with autism and learning disabilities (Clause 9)
- Abolish the use of secret ‘panels’ and require disabled people and those around them to be properly involved in all decisions made about them (Clause 10)
So, none of #LBBill duplicates anything that is in the Care Act, or other existing legislation. It’s all new and it’s all what the community of #JusticeforLB supporters has said is needed if the law is to properly reflect and respect disabled people’s human rights.
With the government expected to announce today its intention to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, let’s get our politicians thinking about the rights disabled people and their families have said they want and need to be enshrined in law. Please keep pushing so that every MP knows about #LBBill and knows how much it matters in advance of the ballot.