Business Disability Forum has welcomed the ‘long-awaited’ National Disability Strategy from the government but said ‘more needs to be done’ to address the challenges facing the sector.
Responding to the announcement, the Forum’s head of policy, Angela Matthews said the strategy has put disability higher on the political agenda, but ‘it is what happens next that is important’.
She said: “We welcome the launch of the long-awaited National Disability Strategy.
“We particularly welcome the commitment to further consider flexible working, disability workforce reporting, and the development of an Access to Work “Passport”, and their impact on disability employment. But more needs to be done to turn this from a one-year plan into a strategy that truly transforms the life chances of disabled people.
“When Government departments work in isolation, different areas of disabled people’s lives – such as transport, employment, health care, homes, social care, education, leisure, social life – risk being seen as separate and unrelated. This disjointed approach is at odds with disabled people’s life experience. Many disabled people need accessible transport to get to work and to take advantage of the investment in accessible tourism that the Strategy mentions, for example. A National Disability Strategy needs to take a whole-life approach to disabled people’s lives.
“To have long term impact, the strategy must also be accompanied by financial investment. Much of the funding announced today is not new.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that this is a “down payment” only. We will await the Autumn Spending Review when we must see more on long-term, additional funding for the strategy.”
In delivering and building on the National Disability Strategy, Business Disability Forum is calling on the Government to:
- Give greater recognition to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the lives of disabled people and the vital role that disability inclusion plays in post-COVID recovery. This includes ensuring everyone has access to the public information they need in a way that is accessible to them
- Recognise the vital role that social care and health care play in delivering equality of opportunity for all disabled people, including those of working age. To ensure that both are properly funded.
- Ensure that Disability Confident requires a whole organisational approach to disability inclusion. Business Disability Forum is carrying out its own review of the scheme and we will share the results with Government.
- Extend the proposed transformation of Access to Work, to allow disabled people to access the scheme at an earlier stage in the job seeking process. To remove the support cap, which disproportionately impacts people with more expensive support needs, such as people who need British Sign Language (BSL) signers and people with learning disabilities.
- Ensure that disabled people have access to assistive technology throughout their lives through a ‘Tech for Life’ fund.
- Commit to meeting the extra costs that disabled people incur simply by having a disability, informed by findings of the Extra Costs Taskforce.