Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams has launched a nationwide Disability Equality Roadshow to develop Labour’s policies to fight discrimination and promote disability equality.
The shadow work and pensions secretary, who represents Oldham East and Saddleworth, welcomed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to Manchester this week for the launch at the offices of trade union Unison.
Mr Corbyn said cuts to public services and benefits had seen the fight for equality thrown into reverse.
He said: “The Labour Party under my leadership wants to break from this failed austerity project and transform our social security system based on the principles of dignity, independence and support.
“By putting equality at the heart of our policies we can put Britain on the path to becoming an equal society for all.”
Mrs Abrahams said the roadshow would help shape future policies for the party as well as tackling current issues facing deaf and disabled people across the UK.
She said: “It is part of Labour’s commitment to transform our social security system, ensuring that, like our NHS, it is there for us all in our time of need.”
Bedroom Tax campaigner, Paul Rutherford, was a guest speaker at the event and was joined by an audience of disabled people and their carers, and Labour’s Greater Manchester mayoral candidate, Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh.
Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mr Rutherford’s family regarding the discriminatory Bedroom Tax.
In their ruling the judges agreed that the application of the Bedroom Tax to Paul’s family – they provide overnight care for their disabled grandson, Warren, who needs a separate bedroom – was ‘manifestly without reason’.
Mr Rutherford wanted to show his support for Labour’s campaign for disability equality by speaking at the launch.
He said: “I’m delighted to appear alongside Jeremy and Debbie at the Labour Party’s launch of the Disability Equality Roadshow.
“This initiative will enable Labour to develop real policies which will properly support disabled people, not punish and harm them, making their often difficult lives harder, which is what this government’s policies are doing.”
Mrs Abrahams added: “The roadshow will draw on the experiences and expertise of disabled people themselves who have been particularly affected by this Tory Government’s changes to social security.”
The Disability Equality Roadshow will involve deaf and disabled people, their carers and service providers at engagement events across every region of the country, and each nation-state.