A National Disability Strategy has been published, setting out the actions the government will take to improve the everyday lives of all disabled people.
The national strategy recognises and builds on the progress that has been made since the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced more than 25 years ago, with a vision to transform the everyday lives of disabled people.
Part 1 sets out immediate commitments the government will make to improve every part of a disabled person’s day, from the moment someone gets up to the moment they go to bed.
The strategy identifies that these immediate steps will not, in and of themselves, lead to the transformative change the government would like to see in disabled people’s everyday lives.
Part 2 sets out ambitious changes to how the government works with and for disabled people into the future, with a commitment to putting disabled people at the heart of government policy-making and service delivery – laying the foundations for longer term, transformative change.
The strategy recognises the importance of ensuring that disability is well understood by UK government departments and that the needs and experiences of disabled people are central to policy-making and always taken into account by frontline staff.
The government will work to embed the following elements, which underpin its future approach to disability:
- Ensure fairness and equality – we will empower disabled people by promoting fairness and equality of opportunities, outcomes and experiences, including work and access to products and services.
- Consider disability from the start – we will embed inclusive and accessible approaches and services to avoid creating disabling experiences from the outset.
- Support independent living – we will actively encourage initiatives that support all disabled people to have choice and control in life.
- Increase participation – we will enable greater inclusion of a diverse disabled population in the development and delivery of services, products and policies.
- Deliver joined up responses – we will work across organisational boundaries and improve data and evidence to better understand and respond to complex issues that affect disabled people.
The government will publish an annual report by summer 2022 and continue to drive action in the areas requiring sustained cross-government ambition. In 2021 to 2022, it plans to focus further action on:
- accessible products and services
- tackling crime against disabled people
- social participation
Part 3 summarises clearly the actions each government department will take as part of the strategy to improve disabled people’s everyday lives, making clear which department is responsible for which commitment. Each department commits to play their part, with ministerial champions setting out how they will personally drive progress.
To advance the objectives of the strategy, individual departments are setting out their plans in a number of the areas that disabled people have told us are key to improving their quality of life. These include:
- the Health and Disability Green Paper Shaping Future Support, led by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), setting out proposals to make the disability benefits system easier to access and navigate
- the Government response to the Health is Everyone’s Business consultation (DWP and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC)
- the Department for Education’s (DfE) publication of the findings of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Review and DHSC’s refreshed Autism Strategy
Reacting to the publication of the Government’s National Strategy for Disabled People, Disability Rights UK CEO Kamran Mallick said: “Disabled people have been waiting a long time for a Strategy that has meat on its bones.
“Despite being nearly 100 pages long, the Strategy is disappointingly thin on immediate actions, medium-term plans and the details of longer-term investment.
“The Strategy has insufficient concrete measures to address the current inequalities that Disabled people experience in living standards and life chances.
“There are scant plans and timescales on how to bring about vastly needed improvements to benefits, housing, social care, jobs, education, transport, and equitable access to wider society.
“While we welcome the Government’s recognition that Disabled people are much less likely than non-Disabled people to have a job, qualifications, to own a home, or to live in an accessible home, we haven’t been given the bold plans that will fix these huge issues.
“A vision is not enough. Admitting change won’t happen ‘overnight’ isn’t enough. We need radical plans, timescales, and deep financial investment to make change a reality.
“Government speaks of building back better, but Disabled people’s lives have yet to be given the first set of strong foundations on which to build anything at all. Government talks about levelling up, and a week after we saw some of the world’s richest men blast into space, we are waiting to see the Government put a rocket up its disability policy.
“We hope that now Government has laid out the stark inequalities facing Disabled people in its Strategy, it will deliver the money and engage with Disabled people’s expertise to make things happen soon.
“And while overnight change is not the reality, rapid, measurable change has to be the goal.”