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UK Government Launches Disability Action Plan

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The Government has launched its new Disability Action Plan – 32 steps to make the UK the most accessible place in the world for disabled people to live, work and thrive.

Practical Actions to Transform Lives

The Government’s new plan sets out 32 ‘practical actions’ aimed at transforming the lives of disabled people. Measures include access to new online resources to help councils create more accessible spaces such as playgrounds and also initiatives to help disabled people get into elected office. The UK will also explore seeking to host the 2031 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The plan has been informed by the views of over 1,3000 disabled people, their families and interested parties.

Specific actions include:

  • a new fund to support disabled people who want to be elected to public office
  • building an online information hub for local authorities on creating accessible playgrounds
  • a new working group to educate businesses on the legal rights of assistance dog owners and make it simpler to report when they are refused access to a business
  • leading new research into emerging issues affecting disabled people in the UK over the next 20 years

Enhancing Disability Access

The Disability Action Plan sits alongside the National Disability Strategy which outlines the Government’s long-term vision for transforming disabled people’s lives for the better.

It also builds on the Government’s employment and welfare reforms – including the new £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan which will help thousands more disabled people and people with health conditions to start and thrive in work. Along with this, the Government asserts that the Chance to Work Guarantee will tear down barriers by getting rid of the fear of reassessment that we know many disabled people who want to try work still face.   

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Mims Davies MP, said “We are building on this government’s really strong track record of supporting and delivering for disabled people by using their key feedback to deliver vital, everyday changes to their lives and we have listened to their asks and are truly determined to deliver on them. This new wide ranging plan means disabled children can rightly enjoy the fun of the playground, disabled customers can use the services they’re entitled to and businesses who break laws around assistance dogs will be firmly held to account amongst other impactful changes”.

Responses

Sport England CEO and Disability and Access Ambassador for Sport and Physical Activity, Tim Hollingsworth said “I support the government’s plans to explore hosting the 2031 Special Olympics World Summer Games. As an event it is both important as the pinnacle event for athletes across the world and inspiring and uplifting for everyone who attends or is involved. As a passionate advocate for disability sport, I am eager to explore the tangible benefits that could come from this initiative in this country, as well as the other more immediate actions in the Disability Action Plan, all aimed at improving the lives of disabled people”.

However, some campaigners have been critical of the announcement. Rachel Charlton-Dailey, a disability activist and journalist, posted on X: “It doesn’t matter how accessible you make the country if disabled people can’t even survive the winter. There’s literally nothing on how they’ll help to make work more accessible for disabled people.”

Richard Kramer, chief executive of the national disability charity Sense, said “While it’s a relief to see Government has listened to the feedback on its Disability Action Plan and created more ambitious proposals than previously published, the proof, as always, will be in the pudding. The Government has set itself six and 12-month reporting milestones, and Sense will be monitoring these carefully to see if the plan turns into actions.

Kramer added “We know from our research that the issues that matter the most to disabled people include pressures from the increasing cost of living, challenges with the benefits system and the ongoing social care crisis. These require long-term solutions to create a just society for disabled people. In a year where we will be heading to the polls, we hope to see all parties commit to creating the bold changes disabled people desperately need.”

A spokesperson for Scope said: “This plan includes some positive short-term actions. But it needs to be properly resourced if it’s to improve the day-to-day lives of disabled people. In the long term, new approaches are urgently needed. Disabled people are too often marginalised. Whether it’s at work, navigating public services, or when bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis. This plan doesn’t exist in a vacuum, either. The Government has spent much of the last year making disabled people’s lives harder. Whether it’s failing to grasp the scale and impact of the cost of living crisis or making the benefits system even more hostile. This must change”.

Final Thought

While the Government’s Disability Action Plan demonstrates some positives, it is vital that ministers are held to account and maintain their promises. Moreover, the plan lacks solid mechanisms to assist disabled people with the cost-of-living crisis.

Last year, Chamber hosted an interview between Marsha de Cordova MP and Scope. Marsha is hugely passionate about the lives of disabled people in the UK – as someone who is registered blind, she empathises with disabled individuals who are incurring financial burden due to the cost-of-living crisis and is keen to push the Government to take action.

Watch the full video here:

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