Press Release – The Future is Now!

*** EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 05 November 2019***


The Future is Now!

Claiming our rights as disabled people

Today at Cardiff City Stadium Disability Wales will host a national conference on disabled people’s rights and equality in Wales, now and for future generations and renew calls for Welsh Government to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRDP) in Welsh law.

Despite decades of legislation designed to tackle discrimination against disabled people, the overwhelming experience for many is a life of poverty, exclusion and barriers to opportunity:

The facts:

  • 40% of disabled people in Wales live in poverty, higher than anywhere else in the UK (JRF 2018)
  • the disability employment gap is 36% which is above the UK average however in some parts of Wales it is as high as 50% (Citizens Advice Cymru 2018).
  • 18 per cent of the working-aged disabled population in Wales hold no qualifications (National Survey for Wales 2018)
  • 11% of recorded Hate Crimes in Wales were judged as relating to disability as a motivating factor showing an increase on previous years (2018/2019 Hate Crime Statistics for England and Wales)
  • Life satisfaction was generally lower for disabled people (mean score in 2017-18 was 7.2) than for non-disabled people (8.0) National Survey for Wales

Ten years of UK Government austerity measures, which were found by the UN to be in breach of the UNCRDP, have had a regressive impact on disabled people’s rights and equality.  Guest speaker and acclaimed Guardian Journalist Dr Frances Ryan, author of Crippled – Austerity and the Demonisation of Disabled People will draw on interviews with disabled people whose lives have been affected by this devastating regime.

Jane Hutt AM Deputy Minister & Chief Whip will provide a keynote speech outlining how Welsh Government is progressing disabled people’s rights and equality as set out in the recently published Framework for Action on Disability: the Right to Independent Living. The Framework states that Welsh Government has begun a process to explore ways and means to strengthen and advance equality and human rights in Wales in the context of the UK’s anticipated departure from the European Union.

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt said:

“At the core of all the Welsh Government’s ambitions is to achieve equality for all and we are committed to removing the obstacles which prevent us from attaining this.

“Our new framework, Action on Disability: the Right to Independent Living, is an important part of the wider work we’re doing to strengthen and advance equality and human rights in Wales. The framework endorses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, reinforcing our pledge to be a leader in equality of outcome for everyone.

“We want to support disabled people to fulfil their potential and live the lives they want to lead, and this framework encourages firm action, giving the lead to those most affected by it. The barriers which disabled people face are not just physical hurdles, they’re also the hurdles created by people’s and organisation’s attitudes – the need has never been greater for us to speak up and work together to defend those who need it most.”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales will discuss what the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act (2015) means for disabled people in Wales. The conference will provide a platform for the Commissioner to launch her new initiative Journey to a More Equal Wales.

Sophie Howe said:

“A more Equal Wales well-being goal is defined as a society that enables people to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances. This means our public bodies must go further than the duties placed by the Equalities Act (2010) and must take positive action to ensure that the future of Wales is one where people have equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

“This latest guidance provides focused action how our public bodies, from our national museums to the Welsh Government can contribute to this goal so that everyone in Wales has equal access to decent jobs, are able to develop skills and knowledge to fulfil their potential and are part of the decision-making process. We need to celebrate diversity and tap into the potential that it offers because equality is everyone’s issue and benefits all of us.”

The conference will also hear from Sara Lomri, Deputy Director of the Public Law Project who will outline the options for holding public bodies to account and provide access to justice for disabled people.

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive Disability Wales, said:

“Incorporation of the UNCRDP in Welsh law is vital to progressing and implementing disabled people’s rights in Wales and tackling the multiple barriers that exist. It would require Ministers to consider disabled people’s rights in any legislation and policy brought forward; establish the UNCRDP as the accountability framework ensuring strategic implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the treaty; and strengthen involvement of disabled people and their representative organisations in informing and influencing policy. Furthermore incorporation would help create a culture of support for disability rights at all levels of policy making and service provision and ensure that disabled people and their families understand that they have rights which must be respected.”

The event will be chaired and facilitated by Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales. Questions to the panel and discussions will provide an opportunity for lively debate!

The audience includes disabled people and their allies, representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations from across Wales, third sector and public sector representatives including the NHS, Police, local authorities and universities.


Notes to editors

1. For further information and interviews please contact:

2. Disability Wales is the national association of disabled people’s organisations striving for the rights and equality of all disabled people.

3. The event today will run from 10:00 until 15:30

4. UNCRDP UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People

5. Welsh Government Framework for Action on Disability

6. Dr Frances Ryan

7. Sara Lomri 

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