Our Voices - letter to Justin Tomlinson re National Disability Strategy

Sun,31 January 2021
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Disability People's Organisations ask for delay in launching Government Disability Strategy

Disability Rights UK Our Voices group has written to the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, setting out a number of problems with the engagement process for the National Disability Strategy and asking that the launch of the Strategy be postponed, pending the full involvement of disabled people.

The Group is made up of a number of Disabled People’s Organisations from across England, that are members of Disability Rights UK. The group came together at the start of the pandemic to represent the interests of disabled people and to enable learning and mutual support.  

The letter urges the Government to put disabled people and Disabled People’s Organisations at the heart of engagement and offers to work with government to support the development of the National Disability Strategy.

The letter criticises the disjointed and fragmented engagement process, pointing to a mixture of thematic meetings, regional stakeholder forums and a limited number of ministerial meetings with a DPO Forum.

The letter is very critical of the current online consultation survey, launched on 15 January for a four-week period. It questions its relevance to developing the Strategy and highlights issues which make it unusable and inaccessible to many disabled people.

The letter ends by calling for the launch of the Disability Strategy to be delayed pending full engagement with disabled people.

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at Disability Rights UK said “25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act, a cross government strategy to tackle the systemic discrimination faced by disabled people is long overdue. However, for the Strategy to be truly effective in creating an inclusive society, the lived experience of disabled people has to be at its heart.”

“Basing the National Disability Strategy, primarily on what government departments want to do, won’t result in an ambitious strategy, which challenges deep attitudinal and systemic barriers and creates a society where disabled people are equal.”   

You can read the letter, which has been signed by the Chief Executives of each of the member organisations, by clicking here.

The contributing CEOs and organisations are:

Kamran Mallick, Disability Rights UK

Victoria Armstrong, Chief Executive, Disability North

Sandie Burns, Chief Executive, Disability Peterborough

Dominic Ellison, Chief Executive, WECIL

Isabelle Clement, Director, Wheels for Wellbeing

Diana Crump, Chief Executive, Living Options Devon

Laura Horton, Chief Executive, LCiL

Emily Morton, Chief Executive, Disability Sheffield

Michelle Scattergood, Chief Executive, Breakthrough UK

Lynne Turnbull, Chief Executive, Disability Positive