Ahead of Government’s ‘Disability Action Plan’, DPO Forum Calls For Systemic Overhaul

Tue,30 January 2024
News Equality & Rights Health & Social Care Participation
This week, between January 30th and February 7th, the Government plans to publish its Disability Action Plan (DAP), claiming to take action across widespread policy areas to improve Disabled people’s lives. This Disability Action Plan is separate from the Government’s National Disability Strategy (NDS), acting as a stand-in for the years of 2023 and 2024.

This comes after the National Disability Strategy was ruled unlawful by the High Court in January 2022, after Disabled people took the Government to court for the failures in their consultation process, feeling excluded and disconnected from this area of policy making. 

During this time, the Women’s and Equalities Committee warned the Government ‘has not learnt lessons’ from the concerns raised over the development of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and its efforts to engage with Disabled people are ‘perceived to be superficial’. 

It is in this context of a failed NDS, which has excluded Disabled people from policy-making and shirked the need for transformative policies addressing societal injustices, that we wait for the Government’s Disability Action Plan.  

It should be noted that there have been two Private Member’s Bills passed in the last year, the British Sign Language and Down Syndrome Acts, with proposed improvements for different Disabled and Deaf communities – however, no additional funding has been provided to support these new legal provisions. For the Government to prove its commitment to Disabled people in this upcoming DAP, they must commit to a radical overhaul of policy in every area; health and social care, housing, education, benefits, voting and serious investment in local government. 

Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), advocacy groups and individual Disabled people all anticipate this DAP launch closely, given the Government’s almost negligible progress on the UN Committee’s recommendations following its 2016 investigation of the UK which found ‘grave or systemic violations’ of Disabled people's rights. 

This is a key chance for the Government to rebuild the trust with Disabled communities that was decimated during austerity by listening to our demands. As part of the Disabled People’s Organisations (DPO) Forum, we are calling for: 

  • Scrap the proposed changes to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) 
  • Scrap care charges 
  • Implement the Disabled People’s Manifesto 
  • Reinstate Access to Elected Office Fund 
  • Ensure reform of the Mental Health Act 1983 complies with the UN Committee’s recommendations, preventing further deprivations of liberty 
  • Introduce a social tariff and a targeted energy grant for Disabled customers with high energy use 
  • Implement accessibility standards for new build homes 
  • Implement Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans 
  • Make Disability Hate Crime a criminal offence  
  • Stop ticket office closures 
  • Introduce rights for Disabled airline passengers  
  • End waits for Access to Work 
  • Introduce mandatory disability workforce monitoring 

We would welcome any and all of the proposed reforms above being included in the Disability Action Plan. However, we are keenly aware that the level of state and infrastructural discrimination against Disabled and other marginalised people in this UK necessitates a more radical overhaul, not just tinkering around the edges. 

As a response to these conditions, the DPO Forum have published a Disabled People’s Manifesto, demanding the Government commit to our demands for equality and justice, created and co-produced by Deaf and Disabled people across England. To achieve true transformation, a long-term funded plan is needed that promotes our voice, representation and participation, that provides us with rights and justice, that gives us the support we need to live independently and that creates a fully inclusive society. To read the full manifesto, visit the Disabled People’s Manifesto website. 

You can take action straight away by signing the petition in support of this manifesto, and writing to your MP, demanding they sign up to supporting Disabled people’s rights. 

The Disability Action Plan is due to be launched in the next week – we will keep you up to date with any news and notable policy commitments from the Government.