Select Committee on Social Security Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Rights Now

1. Our response is very brief. While we welcome the idea that disabled people should be "mainstreamed" into the same work-focused gateway as other groups, we know from our direct experience that until we can participate in the whole of life, this approach will not work in practice.

2. In fact interviews with "special advisers" or DROs or any other title, has been used before for disabled people and has been singularly unsuccessful. The concept of these advisers as a "one-stop shop" is unworkable. The training required to really be able to help disabled individuals would be extremely lengthy and would require very remarkable individuals. The danger is that these individuals will become patronising social workers and interfere in the personal liberty of the individual.

3. Our discrimination lies, not in our impairment, nor in our personal characteristics/functioning but in the way society is ordered. We cannot use transport systems, we cannot participate in most mainstream education or training and we often have no personal history/knowledge/experience of how to participate in mainstream society. An added minor point is that most Job Centres are inaccessible for all disabled people.

  • Substantive changes have to be made to the way society/employment happens before we can take advantage of work.
  • It is the employers who should be interviewed and helped—not disabled people.
  • Fully comprehensive legislation must be made mandatory for all employers and service providers and all other areas of our lives before we can get to the same point of making decisions about employment as the other groups included in the single gateway.
  • Personal Advisers need extensive training to be effective and fulfil their mandate.

Rachel Hurst

April 1999

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