Budget cuts, a major barrier to active participation for people with disabilities

Man in a wheelchair casts his vote in the UK
Man in a wheelchair casts his vote in the UK
This year's European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference, on 3-4 December in Brussels, focuses on active participation of people with disabilities in public life. It will explore how European, national and local policies can support and promote good practice in in politics, media and sports. On this important European Day, FRA reaffirms its commitment to help build a more inclusive society that safeguards the rights of people with disabilities.

"This year the London Paralympics showcased what people with disabilities can do with the right support. It underlined that it is not disability that is a barrier - society is the barrier," said FRA Director, Morten Kjærum. "But time and time again, the support people with disabilities may need to live an active and inclusive life is lacking. We must ensure that the public spending cuts resulting from the current economic crisis do not disproportionately affect the rights of people with disabilities to live independently and take part in community life. And with an ageing population, we must also take particular care that the needs of elderly people with disabilities are met."

The 2012 European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference, ‘Active Europeans with disabilities – let us participate!’ brings together organisations representing people with disabilities and relevant stakeholders. FRA is presenting findings from its research on the rights of people with mental health problems and people with intellectual disabilities. These findings show that some of their basic rights are being deprived: Laws and policies do not enable people with disabilities to enjoy their right to live independently; lack of employment opportunities is creating a reliance on state support and benefits; and legal capacity restrictions in some Member States are denying people with mental health problems and people with intellectual disabilities the right to take decisions about their lives, including the right to vote.

FRA will continue to work alongside its partners in the EU institutions and Member States, and with civil society, including disabled persons organisations, to promote the rights of people with disabilities. FRA's research shows that if people with disabilities are to actively participate they often need support, which is increasingly being hit by public sector spending cuts. Lower public expenditure on programmes such as personal assistance, job creation and community services is a real barrier to the active participation of people with disabilities, including the elderly, in public life.

See also: