The National Disability Strategy – Our Response

Graphic which shows the logos of Bristol Disability Equality Forum (four coloured diamonds with graphic on each showing a different Disability with the words Bristol Disability Equality Forum') and the UK Government's website (graphic of a white crown on a black backdrop with white text underneath the crown reading 'GOV.UK') on a white backdrop overlapping a green backdrop. Text in black on a yellow rectangle reads 'The National Disability Strategy - Our Response'.

On Wednesday 28 July, the Government released their National Disability Strategy. The Government say that the strategy sets out their ideas on how to improve the everyday lives of Disabled people.

You can read the strategy here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-disability-strategy?utm_source=https%3a%2f%2fnews.dwp.gov.uk%2fdwplz%2f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DC+Newsletter+Extra+2+July+2021&utm_term=National+Disability+Strategy+%3a+new+look+Jobhelp+campaign&utm_content=89008

We at the Forum, and many others, are frustrated by the strategy and don’t think it will improve Disabled people’s lives very much.

It is a strategy created without enough involvement of those with lived experience and their Disabled people-led (staff and trustees) organisations.

It is yet another government strategy that has no details about:
a. how Government will measure the difference it makes,
b. how it will make sure it achieves permanent improvements in Disabled people’s lives, according to Disabled people themselves, and
c. whether the changes made are the best solutions to Disabled people’s priorities.

When the Forum met with the Minister for Disabled People (Justin Tomlinson MP), we said the lack of involvement of organisations with a majority of Disabled staff and trustees, and of Disabled people themselves is not acceptable.

Those who were consulted about the strategy were organisations for Disabled people (not run by them), carers, employers, businesses and non-Disabled staff of organisations run by Disabled people, etc.

The Minister also said that he discussed the strategy with his Regional Disability Networks. When we asked how many people this had involved it turned out that his team had spoken to an average of 25 people per region and, when we asked for more details, he could not say how many of these were Disabled people themselves, or organisations run by Disabled people!

This clearly shows neglect for the Government’s supposed commitment to the principle of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us‘ and ‘person-centred‘ planning.

The Government has also stopped having any meetings of its own advisory group of Disabled people’s organisations, despite their promise to work with Disabled people.

This follows the Government’s lack of concern about the impact on Disabled people of decisions they made about the Coronavirus pandemic and tells us that individual Disabled people need to become more active within Disabled people-run organisations.

It is really important that Disabled people do this so that their organisations can show that we do not represent just a small part of the UK’s Disabled citizens. This is essential if we are to get your voice heard.

According to the Minister for Disabled People, Disabled people will be consulted about what the Government need to do to achieve the aims of the strategy, and what impact their actions will have on Disabled people. So we asked him to commit to discussing it with us.

We are waiting to get a written invitation but are not holding our breath!

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