Letter: Inaccurate costs that deny civil rights to the disabled

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The Independent Online
Sir: Rosie Waterhouse ('Disabled 'under attack from Tory right wing' ', 31 August) highlights the attacks on the rights and incomes of disabled people.

In challenging the Government's estimate that the Civil Rights Bill would cost pounds 17bn, the two reports for the Rights Now campaign showed that the Bill could have been introduced at no cost whatsoever. One reduced the Government's cost compliance assessment to pounds 5bn; the other estimated that the cost of excluding disabled people from the workforce could be as much as pounds 5bn per year - wiping out the Government's pounds 17bn estimate.

The Government has failed to produce a proper costs-benefit analysis of the Civil Rights Bill, instead publishing a consultation document which neglects important areas, such as transport and education. This is no substitute for civil rights.

Press reports suggest that the Government subsidy to Remploy runs in the order of pounds 80m. Our estimates show that the cost of excluding from employment those disabled people who may be able to work, amounts to pounds 9,000 per person per year. On this basis, putting 9,000 Remploy employees out of work would also cost pounds 80m in payment of benefits and lost tax revenues.

Finally, changes to the benefits system should concern all working people. Any of us could become sick or disabled or unemployed. Yet we are now paying substantially more in national insurance contributions and destined to receive less if we need to claim incapacity benefit or job- seekers' allowance in the future.

Yours sincerely,

MARILYN HOWARD

The Disability Alliance

London, E1

31 August

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