It’s been nearly two weeks since the launch of the National Disability Strategy – this long-awaited strategy, named by the Prime Minister ‘most ambitious endeavor on disability in a generation’.
How has this long-awaited supposed “game changer” been received with a muted response from charities and other organisations that represent the interests of 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, the disappointment was even voiced by many in the disabled community, myself included.
A ‘down payment’ on ‘building back better and fairer, for all our disabled people’.The words of Boris Johnson
Despite the government’s claims, many of the 100 “practical actions” in the strategy have already been announced, amounting to nothing more than a promise to update guidance, or are subject to further consultation, discussion or reviews.
You would have thought with the amount of time taken to produce, we would have seen a more detail on the government’s plans. For instance the consultation on accessible housing that has been in the air for two years now or social care, as the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is to publish its repeatedly-delayed proposals for reform “later this year”.
A “better and fairer life”
As an advocate and a disabled campaigner I have been campaigning for many years now to improve accessible housing so when I read what I can only describe as waffle, false promises and quite frankly everything that should already be happening – It’s so disappointing that the Government has missed the opportunity to make a firm joined up link between accessible homes and other key policy areas. Without accessible homes disabled people are held back from ‘levelling up’ in so many ways. It’s harder to work, to raise a family, to study or even just build relationships with neighbours and friends.
These are all basic things that most non-disabled people don’t think twice about. The Government’s own figures show that the number of people who want to move to find somewhere more accessible is increasing. At the same time, there are 400,000 wheelchair users living in homes that are neither adapted nor designed to be accessible.
It’s simply not okay that so many people are making do in unsuitable homes. If we’re serious about equality and inclusion this must change now before it’s too late.
Another campaign close to my heart that was mentioned was Changing Places Toilets. Out of the 100 + pages I did welcome the added funding of £450 thousand to the funding available to local authorities now!
What is a National Disability Strategy?
The National Disability Strategy is a document that contains a set of commitments from each Government department that they will complete over the next year. It is the first time in a long time that there has been a shared vision across Government on disability.
What’s in it?
The Strategy contains a large number of actions around 120 of them – on everything from transport, employment, technology, leisure, arts. I won’t bore you by listing them all, but here are some of the main ones:
- The new creation of ‘Centre for Assistive and Accessible Technology’ with £1 million of funding to ensure more effective awareness raising, training and support for disabled people to use the technology.
- A consultation on workforce reporting on disability for large employers, exploring mandated reporting as we see with gender pay gap reporting.
- Accelerating the upgrade of rail station platforms to have tactile paving.
- Introduction of legislation that will require all buses to have audible and visual announcements.
- Introduction of an Access to Work passport to allow disabled people to take kit from one job to another and from university to employment.
- £30 million investment with an added £450 thousand. In Changing Places facilities across the UK.
- Introduction of an Access Card to enable barrier free booking for disabled people to art and cultural events and buildings.
- Housing improvements, such as increasing the number of accessible homes built, with a consultation on requiring landlords to make reasonable adjustments to leasehold and commonhold homes.
- A commitment to making playgrounds more accessible for disabled children.
- A commitment to look at extra costs by creating a cross-government Taskforce to address the extra cost of disability.
To end – I think we’re all gonna have different opinions when it comes to how each of us really feel and how the National disability strategy will either make a difference or just be another 114 pages of something that we’ve heard all before.
For myself it makes no difference I will still continue to fight and campaign for what I believe is right for each and everyone of us as disabled people. A more diverse and inclusive place to live!
Have you read all 114 pages of national disability strategy? And if you have what are your thoughts? – feel free to leave me a comment.
Until next time.
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