Review backs laws to help disabled

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Indy Politics
LEGISLATION is needed to prevent discrimination against disabled people in employment, housing and transport, according to a policy paper by the Labour Party-appointed Commission on Social Justice.

Employment quotas should be imposed to enforce the law under which employers are obliged to recruit 3 per cent of their staff from the ranks of the disabled, the report recommends. Only one in three employers meets the quota and 70 per cent of disabled people of working age are unemployed.

More controversially, the report also suggests the Government should introduce a new welfare benefit, comprehensive disability income, to compensate disabled people for their reduced earnings capacity and to reflect the additional disability-related expenses of daily life.

The Labour Party has pledged support for a revived Bill to stop discrimination against disabled people after a private member's Bill was defeated by Tory MPs.

The report, Disabled People and Social Justice, recommends that disabled people should have the right to choose either local authority services or the cash equivalent, following a disability needs assessment; there should be a 'no- fault' compensation system to enable compensation claims to be dealt with more quickly; and more disabled people should be co- opted on to government committees and advisory bodies.

The paper, by Bert Massie, director of the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, accuses the Government of obstructing 13 private member's Bills designed to outlaw discrimination since 1982.

Sir Gordon Borrie, chairman of the commission, said: 'Disabled people are an untapped resource of energy and ideas. We need a big shift in attitudes and policies to tap their talent.'

The commission was established by the late John Smith in 1992 to develop a new social and economic agenda. Its final report is due in the autumn.

Disabled People and Social Justice, IPPR; 30-32 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7RA; pounds 2.95.