Its been a very tough day for disabled people today, we lost the bus wheelchair space case, and the case to stop the closure of the independent living fund.
With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I had to read out both decisions to the campaigners and people gathered outside to support the vigil, there was a gasp at the bus discrimination case and total incredulous silence as the first judgement sank in, then 10 minutes later the legal team for the ilf handed out the press statement in the judgement for the ILF
part of it reads as follows: two severely disabled men who use the ILF today lost their bid to overturn the department’s decision to the close the ILF in June 2015, as the High Court, ruled that the former minister for disabled people Mike Penning had not breached equality laws in making the closure decision earlier this year. The two men had been granted permission for a judicial review of the process leading to penning’s closure decision, taken just weeks after the court of appeal quashed a previous almost identical decision as being unlawful.
In the earlier successful challenge the claimants argued that the minister had not been given adequate information to be able to properly assess the practical effect of the closure of the particular needs of ILF users and their ability to live independently, or to consider alternatives, The court of Appeal ruled that this information about impact was essential for the Minister to comply with the Equality Act,which requires the government to act positively aadvance equality of opportunity for disabled people , including meeting needs, removing disadvantages and increasing their participation in public life.
The judge ruled the crucial difference between the two decision making processes was that the first minister (esther mcvey) was given an over optimistic “Panglossian” summary of information about how the ILF users were likely to be affected, whereas in the second decision the Minister was fully aware of the “ineviatable and considerable affect the closure would have on disabled people.
It was the judges view that the minister had clear, ambigious information on which to weigh up the implications for disability equality, regardless of the exact number of people who would likely to have to go into residential care or lose their ability to work or study.
I put the peice of paper down and looked at Sue and Jenny, Jenny with tears in her eyes. I went over to Jenny and squeezed her hand, and then with megaphone in my hand said to everyone gathered, we have to keep fighting, we cant give up, and we must go on.
The mood was sombre and reflective, then after a little while we got angry. DPAC campaigners organsied everyone to carry out a peaceful direct action, we blocked the front entrance of the royal courts of justice in direct response to the courts decision.
We may have lost two decisions today, but I know only this we will keep fighting for our rights, for equality, for fairness and that is something that no disabled person will ever give up on is the fight for all of our rights as disabled people.
We now have to re group, plan next steps but I know only this, the fight goes on, and to all politicians, be afraid, be very afraid, disabled people are fighting back and we will ramp up the fight back against you.