Disability Campaigners Celebrate ‘Easements’ Win

Published in Solidarity 587, 7 April 2021

Disabled people’s organisations have scored an important victory as the government has announced that local councils will no longer be excused from meeting their social care obligations.

A year ago, the Coronavirus Act included provisions for councils to apply for “easements”, under which they would not have to provide assessment and care under the Care Act. Eight councils had used this provision, including — shamefully — two Labour councils.

But campaigners had objected throughout the year and their pressure has finally been rewarded. This follows the withdrawal late last year of the Coronavirus Act’s measure of allowing just one doctor to “section” a person experiencing mental health problems, which had also been condemned by disability, mental health and civil liberties campaigners.

However, some discriminatory provisions in the Act remain in place, including a relaxation of the requirement for education authorities to provide suitable education for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Additional Learning Needs in Wales).

Hann Sutcliffe, Manifesto and Policy Officer of Neurodivergent Labour, told Solidarity: “It’s pleasing to see that the voices of disabled people and advocacy groups are being heard in a time when so often they are considered expendable. Lockdown has impacted the most vulnerable people especially disabled so disproportionately that we should celebrate any victory we get. While we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the original measures go nearly far enough to adequately support disabled communities, it’s heartening to see a considerable win such as this.”

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