By Sarah Gillinson, Hannah Green and Paul Miller.The welfare system should be radically overhauled to support and empower disabled people to design and deliver their own services, according to a report published by the think-tank Demos. It calls on the Government to use reform of Incapacity Benefit to create a system of support for disabled people based on the principles of independent living, with the needs of the individual placed at the centre. The report was produced in partnership with Scope and is published as part of their Time To Get Equal campaign.
The authors argue that the current welfare system has failed to bring disabled people into the social mainstream and failed to bring equality of opportunity. They call for a new structure of delivery in which disabled people are supported and empowered to shape their own services. This would not only make independent living a reality for many, but it would also reflect their right to equal citizenship and empower them to seize it.
They claim that if the Government is serious about improving the life chances of disabled people it needs to turn the welfare state on its head. This would mean putting independent living at the heart of its welfare reforms. There would need to be a new approach to working in partnership with disabled people and their organisations to develop the reform programme. It would require giving disabled people economic power by establishing mechanisms such as direct payments and personalised budgets. Disabled people would also need the tools to exercise choice and control over their lives. These measures, they argue, would bring equality.
The report is published by Demos. ISBN: 1841801453. Cost:10.00 pounds.
It can be downloaded free of charge at: http://www.demos.co.uk/catalogue/independentlivingreport