Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Roger Wicks, explains the stance we and a number of disability charities are taking on the government’s upcoming National Disability Strategy, and how we believe the government can improve on its current flawed approach to creating the strategy.
The Disability Charities Consortium
We are a member of the Disability Charities Consortium (DCC), which brings CEOs and public policy leads from the UK’s leading influential not-for-profit disability organisations together to work with the government to ensure disabled people’s experiences are reflected in UK policy making.
The DCC members are:
- Business Disability Forum (BDF)
- Disability Rights UK
- Leonard Cheshire
- National Autistic Society
- Royal National Society of Blind people (RNIB)
- Royal National Institute for Deaf people (RNID)
- and Sense.
The DCC created a manifesto to feed into the development of the government’s National Disability Strategy and to set out the DCC’s ambitions and priorities for the strategy and beyond. We believe that the upcoming publication of the National Disability Strategy document should only be the start and will require considerable ongoing input from a broad range of communities and organisations represented by disabled people to shape its implementation and make sure momentum is maintained.
While wide-ranging in scope, our manifesto provides a series of solutions and areas for change which we believe must be at the heart of the National Disability Strategy to tackle the persistent barriers that disabled people face in their daily lives. The DCC is keen to see the following from the National Disability Strategy:
- A strategy with clear and tangible actions that will be taken, timescales, investment and measures for success.
- Monitoring and accountability of progress, including leadership and participation by disabled people.
- Engagement with disabled people that is accessible and meaningful. Online data collection must be one part of a wider consultation with multiple formats of participation enabled.
- Clear and tangible routes for engagement that are timely and accessible and include updates on progress.
- Most importantly of all, a clear way forward to bring transformation to disabled people’s life opportunities and participation.
The asks set out in our manifesto are not exhaustive but reflect the key themes that the DCC believes are the highest priority for inclusion in the National Disability Strategy at this point in time, given the focuses that the government has set out in its intentions for the strategy. We also encourage others – disabled people and disabled people’s organisations – to share their views.
Have your say by taking the UK Disability Survey
The lack of engagement with disabled people in the creation of the strategy is something that the DCC has highlighted to the government. The government have created a public survey and – while we think that engagement with disabled people needs to go much further – we would still encourage everyone to take the survey and outline their views. Take the UK Disability Survey.
The impact we want to see from the National Disability Strategy
We are particularly keen for the Government to use the National Disability Strategy to finally set out a clear plan for how it will meet its target of getting an additional 1 million disabled people into employment by 2027. We know from the employment services we provide and the research we’ve done that deaf people still face unfair barriers entering the workforce. We also know that deaf people face a glass ceiling and are more likely to leave the workforce and take early retirement than their non-disabled peers. This must end.
We therefore want the strategy to focus on how the government can support deaf people in employment. This needs to include:
- good monitoring of large employers
- greater support through Access to Work, and
- a concerted effort to challenge the attitudes and practices of employers that deny deaf and disabled people the opportunities that their talent deserves.
To celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities last December, the Prime Minister said that his government ‘will publish the most ambitious disability plan in a generation – so there are no barriers to anyone realising their full potential’. We share this vision and will work constructively to push the government in the hope that the ambitions of their words are matched by their actions.
However, our engagement with the government brought into question whether the National Disability Strategy will radically change the life chances of deaf and disabled people. We have therefore published our manifesto in the hope that the government can still work with disabled people to bring forward a strategy to change the way that the government works with deaf and disabled people.