National Disability Strategy 'falls short' of what disabled people deserve

The Government has launched its new disability strategy, but campaigners say that the plans do not go far enough and that the funding is not sufficient for long term transformational change.

29/07/21

National Disability Strategy 'falls short' of what disabled people deserve

The Government says disabled people are set to benefit from plans to upgrade job support and opportunities, housing, and transport as part of a new National Disability Strategy.

The strategy sets out 100 immediate commitments supported by £1.6 billion of funding alongside what it calls an “ambitious agenda” for future reform.

The strategy is focused on improving inclusion in the workplace, tackling the disability employment gap – currently at 28.6% - and making sure children with special educational needs and disabilities are at the heart of the strategy.

The strategy also aims to invest £300 million to create places, improve existing provision in schools and make accessibility adaptations for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

The Government says it will raise the accessibility requirements for new homes and adapt existing homes using the £573 million Disabled Facilities Grant to make changes like widening doors, installing ramps, fitting stair lifts, or installing a downstairs bathroom.

It has also mandated that 10% of homes built through the £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26 will be for supported housing, increasing availability of ‘good homes’ for those with additional needs.

However, campaigners have criticised the strategy for being too short-term in its aims.

Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive at disability equality charity Scope, said the plans fall short of the promises.

“The Government promised a National Disability Strategy that will truly transform the lives of disabled people in this country. The reality is closer to a one-year action plan.

“Many of the short-term commitments made are to be welcomed, but the strategy as a whole falls short of the transformational plan that many disabled people expected and deserve. Unless we get clear detail beyond the next 12 months, it is difficult to see how life will be significantly different for the next generation of disabled people.”

Hodgkinson says the strategy also does not go far enough, even in its first year, arguing disabled children and their families will gain little from the strategy beyond “tweaks to the education system”. He says the Government has failed to set out how and when it intends to close the disability employment gap.

“The money earmarked to deliver the strategy is sadly not sufficient for long term transformational change, and in many cases is not ‘new’ money.

“Investing in disabled people can have a hugely positive impact to our country, to our economy and to disabled people’s living standards. Therefore, further investment must be prioritised as part of the upcoming spending review.”

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