In marking the closure of the 2003 European Year of Disabled People (EYDP), the Prime Minister committed his Government to extending the rights and opportunities for disabled people in the UK.
In support, the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Eagle MP, declared:
"Real momentum has been achieved this year and I am confident 2004 will see further improvements as disabled people assert their rightful place as equals in society."
As its own contribution to the EYDP, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) of the Chartered Institute of Taxation carried out a review in 2003 to find out how the system of tax and tax related benefits in truth affects people with disabilities as they try to assert their rightful place. We discovered that:
- Nobody knows how many disabled people there are in the UK
- Nobody has produced a universally accepted definition of what it means to be 'disabled'
- There is no coherent and consistent 'joined up' approach by Government on tax and tax related benefits; in particular, to match tax and benefits policy with modern medical thinking
- Even the newly introduced Working Tax Credit fails to offer help for those struggling to stay in work while suffering illness or disability
- Standards of service and access for disabled people provided by the Inland Revenue, the Department for Work and Pensions and local authorities too often still fall short of what is required.
Our report, Disability in tax and related benefits: the case for a modern and coherent approach examines why there is this gap in Government policy; urges discussion on how to close it; and suggests some important topics for decision and implementation. We have sent copies to Maria Eagle herself, members of the Parliamentary Group on Disability and other key policy makers.
John Andrews, LITRG Chairman, stressed the need to bring the tax system more into line with modern medical thinking on disability. He added:
"We very much support the Minister's objective here and I have written to her and to the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue with what I see as a realistic timetable for discussing and implementing the recommendations in our Report in tandem with the Government's proposed Disability Discrimination Bill. This is an excellent opportunity to make a real improvement in the treatment of disabled people in taxes, tax credits, benefits and council tax."
An executive summary of the Report is available by clicking the Relevant link below and there from there the Report itself may be accessed. Printed copies may also be obtained from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, CIOT, 1st Floor, Artillery House, 11-19 Artillery Row, London SW1P 1RT, telephone 0844 579 6700, at a price of £10.
Contact Name: Robin Williamson (Contact tel: 0844 579 6700, Fax: 0844 579 6701)
Relevant Link: Executive Summary of the Report