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Government admits not considering impact of no-deal Brexit on people with a disability

Ministers accused of ‘disgraceful’ failure to assess potential risks, including shortage of medical supplies and health workers

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 26 June 2019 11:50 BST
Tens of thousands of disabled people denied benefits for extra month

Ministers have been condemned after admitting that they have not carried out any assessment of the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on the lives of people with disabilities.

The government was accused of having “ignored” people with a disability after admitting that “no formal assessment” had been conducted, despite fears over a possible lack of medical supplies and health workers if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

The revelation came in a reply to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Jo Stevens.

Responding, Caroline Dinenage, the care minister, said: “No formal impact assessment has been conducted by the department of the effect on people with disabilities of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal.”

Last year, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he could not guarantee that no one would die if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Fears have also been raised that restrictions on freedom of movement after Brexit could prevent the UK recruiting enough carers and health workers from abroad.

And MPs have previously warned that the loss of the European Social Fund could be “disastrous” for disadvantaged groups, including people with a disability. The fund currently gives £500m a year to organisations in the UK that provide employment and training support for people who are often neglected by mainstream providers.

Ms Stevens told PoliticsHome that the response to her question “shows just how unprepared the Tory government is for leaving the EU without a deal, and how reckless the Tory leadership candidates have been in advocating one”.

She added: “People with disabilities will be deeply concerned about their futures and will properly ask why the government and the candidates to be prime minister have ignored them.”

Marsha de Cordova, the shadow minister for disabled people, said: “Many disabled people face the prospect of losing out on vital medicines, funding and support as the result of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit.

“But the government is shamefully treating disabled people as collateral damage to the chaos it has created. It is disgraceful that the government continues to ignore the effect of crashing out of the EU on millions of disabled people in this country, some of whom already face destitution as a result of brutal austerity measures.”

A government spokesperson said: “The government is committed to protecting the rights of disabled people and those with health conditions, supporting them into work and to live independently.

“We are preparing for all eventualities to ensure claimants continue to get the right support.”

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