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PM acknowledges vast amounts of discrimination Disabled people face across all aspects of society

28 July 2021

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the vast amount of difficulties Disabled people face. In a foreward to the National Disability Strategy released today, he said:

Imagine if there was a vast British city where the 14 million residents were much less likely than those elsewhere to have a job or even any qualifications at all. Where the children were twice as likely to become victims of crime, far fewer adults owned their own home, and the impact of Coronavirus had been distressingly disproportionate.

If such a place existed, policymakers and politicians would be clamouring to intervene and fix the obvious injustices that bedevilled the population. Think tanks would whirr into action, task forces would be created, no stone would be left unturned.

Yet these statistics relate to the daily reality of life of the UK’s 14.1 million people living with a disability. And, even though it is more than a quarter of century since John Major introduced the ground-breaking Disability Discrimination Act, no UK government has ever drawn up such a comprehensive, concerted, cross-government plan to deal with such problems and make disability policy a truly ecumenical endeavour.

That is, until now.

Because if there is one thing more than any other that drives this government, it’s our determination to level up the country so that whoever and wherever you are, the spark of your talent and potential can be connected with the kindling of opportunity.

Viewed through such a prism the situation facing our disabled people – 1 in 5 of the population – is not only a scandal for those involved but a waste of talent and potential that we can ill-afford. And while progress has been made in some areas, for example with more housing becoming more accessible, we can and must do better. Which is what this strategy is all about.

Formulated with the input of more than 14,000 disabled people in one of the largest-ever exercises of its kind, refined over many months, with help from policy experts, campaign groups, charities and more, it is a truly cross-cutting national strategy. It sees departments and agencies in every corner of Government setting out how they will do their bit to bring about the practical and lasting change that will make a material difference to the lives of disabled people right across our country.

Not just bridging the gaping chasm of education, skills and employment – even in 2021 a disabled person with a degree is no more likely to have a job than a non-disabled person who left school at 16 – but addressing the countless instances of unfairness that plague daily life in everything from grocery shopping to the accessibility of courtrooms.

It is the most far-reaching endeavour in this area for a generation or more, not merely a set of worthy aspirations but a concrete plan for the future. And, ultimately, its name is something of a misnomer. Because this strategy is not about disability at all, but ability.

The enormous ability of disabled people and the potential to see it realised.

And our ability to acknowledge and appreciate the contribution that disabled people make to our national life, and to listen and respond to their needs.

As we emerge from the long shadow of Coronavirus, I want to build back better and fairer, for all our disabled people – and this strategy is the down payment on making that happen.