Independent living – Welsh Government assessment
There have been legal or policy changes to improve human rights protections but very limited evidence of sustained improvements in the enjoyment of human rights on this issue
Changes to the legal and policy framework are welcome in the areas of transport, housing and social care, and an updated action plan on independent living. A commitment to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) into Welsh law is positive. But a lack of data makes it difficult to assess the impact of these changes in removing barriers to disabled people’s full participation in society. The available evidence shows that disabled people in Wales continue to face barriers to the right to live independently, such as a shortage of accessible homes, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made these problems worse.
- Despite an ongoing commitment through the independent living action plan, the right to independent living is not currently incorporated into domestic law in Wales. However, the Welsh Government has committed to incorporate the UN CRPD into Welsh law in its 2021 to 2026 programme for government.
- The employment rate for disabled people was 47.8% in 2020, compared with 80.2% for non-disabled people. In 2016, the respective figures were 44% and 78.6%. The disability employment gap has therefore narrowed slightly in the period 2016–2020, from 34.6% to 32.4%.
- In 2018–19, 80% of social care recipients reported being in control of their lives as much as they could be, with 74% reporting that they were able to do the things that mattered to them – this is similar to the levels in 2016–17.
- However, the National Assembly for Wales (now Senedd Cymru) Finance Committee has raised concerns about a lack of data on levels of unmet need for adult social care.
- Despite welcome policy reforms, a severe shortage of accessible homes continues to affect disabled people’s right to independent living.
- Inaccessible transport services continue to create a barrier to disabled people’s full social and economic inclusion in Wales.
- The 2021 ‘Locked out’ report, written by disabled people and disabled people’s organisations, found that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health measures have created or compounded barriers to disabled people’s equal access to essential services and food security, healthcare, housing and public transport use, and that some disabled people have been digitally excluded by measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Shortages in the provision of effective personal protective equipment, testin8 easements for adults in Wales, these were never used and the protection of the legal framework for children and adults remained in place in Wales throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on independent living.