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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Letter To U.K.'s Joint Committee On Human Rights

Joint Committee on Human Rights
Committee Office
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials (see attached) on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this

I am writing to inquire if the Joint Committee on Human Rights intends to legislatively scrutinize HM Treasury's Spending Round 2013?  Does the Spending Review require the approval of Parliament?

Please see the following HM Treasury FOI request, which has been received and acknowledged: (

In my opinion, this document ( lacks credibility, and that's why I have requested the correspondence between HM Treasury and The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) pertaining to Spending Round 2013.  I want to see if the GEO and the EHRC expressed human rights concerns in their correspondence that the government is blatantly downplaying.

Serious concerns regarding the impact of the Spending Round proposals on disabled people have already been expressed:
(, (, and (

I also believe there is a significant risk that requiring benefit claimants to wait seven days before they can sign on for help, and forcing some claimants to survive a month without income will result in their destitution, such as would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the ECHRPlease note this passage from

Official data suggests the average wait for benefit claims to be processed is 16 days, though food banks report that in some areas claimants can wait for up to 25 days. Adding another seven days to that period would mean some claimants trying to survive a month without an income.

One of my U.K. Twitter followers e-mailed me her comments regarding Britain's Spending Review 2013:

"The seven day wait has the potential to push poor people toward the pay day loan sector.  This change was announced  just days after Wonga (digital loan company) increased its typical APR to 5,853%!  The dangers are compounded by the uncertainty surrounding Social Fund support since its localisation this year.

It also needs to be clarified how the new seven-day period will relate to Housing Benefit claims (which are usually passported from Job Seekers Allowance), as any increase in the delay in receiving Housing benefit would simply provide yet another disincentive for landlords to rent to people claiming benefits."

I look forward to your reply and comments.  Please note that this letter is being cc'ed to senior UN officials.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)


Ms. Navanethem Pillay
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Jorge Araya
Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Groups in Focus Section
Human Rights Treaties Division
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
+41 22 917 9106
+41 22 917 9008

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