Last reply 2 months ago
UK – Definition of Disability – update

Some of you will know that I have a bee in my bonnet about the inconsistency between acts of parliament regarding the use of the word disabled.

Why is this important: MS is one of only three conditions listed as a disability in the Equality Act 2010.

What does it mean: When there is any reference to the word disabled as a descriptive term in regards to a product, service or concession (think Railcards, bus passes etc) then MS automatically falls into the category. The Act is clear that the provider may not further define disability in a way that excludes one of the three protected categories. In other words, it is binary.

Where am I at: The Disabled Railcards was an easy win as they saw sense right away. I have been making a case to my council – Oxfordshire – to acquire a free disabled bus pass. Not so much because I need on personally at the moment but it is my view that this confusion needs clarification. The Council has been concerned enough that it is now with their legal team. Yes or no is fine. Yes will set a precedent but will not be enforceable (just common sense to show to other councils) and a no means I will be taking it further. I met my MP last night at a function and we chatted briefly. We are both of the view that sometimes these things need to be clarified. I am talking to a Barrister that specialises in the Act later today. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on MS is chaired by another MP and his office has asked me to keep them informed.

It ain’t over yet, and as pwMS we need to know where we stand and why. I will, of course, keep you updated with regards to fairly accessing the services and concessions that you are entitled to. I kind of enjoy a good scrap like this 🙂

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2 months ago

Fantastic! Yesterday I applied for disabled rail pass along with letter from GP (who very kindly refused to take payment!) so I am hopeful that I will use it to visit my mum on the train pretty soon. Thankyou for highlighting this inconsistency and taking it further.

2 months ago

@look – fantastic news. They (the RDG who do the passes) are pretty speedy and have not given pushback to anyone yet afaik.

It is turning into something a little more drawn out now. Intellectually challenging so makes it good fun as I am looking for a job.

The Concessionary Bus Fares Act 2007 – yes, there is an act for this!
The Transport Act 2000
The Interpretation Act 1987

And so on and so forth. I have found out that the MS Society sponsors a free legal helpline specifically for MS Sufferers.

2 months ago

@dominics , I’m glad we have you on our side. 😉

2 months ago

Yes, your synapses are certainly not being kept idle! Good job! And… I just got an e mail about my railcard, which is being dispatched today! Thanks again as it will make an enormous difference to me and many others
😀Loo – K

2 months ago

Don’t count your chickens just yet regarding the broader issue (Railcards are fine) as after the legal team (what is the money it was just one of the eight in-house solicitors) issued a No.

Well, of the 8, the most recently qualified one was 19 years ago, none of them lists the Equality Act (hardly surprising) as an interest or area of speciality in their respective Law Society entries. One does employment law and from the stated areas of expertise is the only one that comes close.

So, I am taking advice from elsewhere from people that specialise in the Act. No point it listing MS as a disability from the date of diagnosis then treating it differently. I mean, why would a significant piece of government legislation go out of its way to do so to start with?

We all know that you can feel dreadful without it showing in the form of a white stick, wheelchair, missing limb type thing and it is my feeling that this is precisely the reason the Act lists a pwMS (P166) as a considered as having a disability from the date of diagnosis. What other conceivable reason is there? MS isn’t a ‘poster child’ illness like cancer yet it is listed alongside cancer and HIV as the only three conditions that warrant a specification as disabled.

Hmmm, ideas as to why it is listed. Am I missing something obvious?

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