Disabled people and employers again attacked the government’s
Disability Discrimination Bill, presented to Parliament last
The bill would outlaw discrimination, give disabled people a new
right of access to goods and services, and create a National
Disability Council to advise government. But it would not apply to
employers of fewer than 20 workers, and ends the 3 per cent
disabled employee quota system.
Stephen Bradshaw, chairperson of the Rights Now campaign, said
the Bill is a set of half-measures which fall short of laws on sex
and race discrimination. Ann Robinson, Scope’s chief executive,
called it a pale imitation of the civil rights disabled people
need. And MIND slammed it as a lost opportunity.
The Institute of Directors said it is effectively a blank cheque
with employers expected to pay costs totalling £1.5
A petition containing 32,000 signatures was presented to the
Commons by Tom Clarke, MP for Monklands West, urging that disabled
people be given meaningful civil rights legislation.
Further controversy is expected as the new incapacity benefit,
replacing invalidity benefit, comes into force in April. The
government expects to cut spending from £8 billion to £6
billion by 2000.
* A Department of Social Security report found a threefold
increase in the number of direct payments taken from claimant’s
Income Support, leaving them unable to live on their benefits.
Direct payments from Income Support is available from the HMSO.