Better job prospects, accessible housing, and easier commuting are set to become reality for millions of disabled people through actions set out in the UK government’s National Disability Strategy.
The strategy sets out 100 immediate commitments alongside an ambitious agenda for future reform and, while certain responsibilities are devolved, many are set to improve the everyday lives of disabled people in Wales.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Just as our talented Paralympians are set to take the stage in Tokyo next month, at home we are harnessing that same ambition and spirit, to build a better and fairer life for all disabled people living in the UK.
“Our new National Disability Strategy is a clear plan – from giving disabled people the best start in school to unlocking equal job opportunities, this strategy sets us on a path to improve their everyday lives.”
Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, said:
“With the announcement of the new National Disability Strategy, the UK Government is delivering on its commitment to improving the lives of over 14 million disabled people living in the UK, including those living throughout Wales.
“It’s important that this new strategy is implemented throughout the nations so that disabled people can live their everyday lives to the fullest, with equal access to services and infrastructure that is available to others.”
Work and Pensions Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey said:
“The result of an unprecedented endeavour across government, this national strategy will help level up opportunity and improve the everyday experience of disabled people, whether that is at home; travelling on public transport; using the local high street or going online; enjoying culture, the arts or the great outdoors; and exercising civic roles like jury service and voting.
“It sets out the practical actions we will take now, alongside clear accountability for delivering them, as well as renewing our ambition to do even more as we build back fairer.”
The strategy is focused on improving inclusion in the work place and tackling the disability employment gap – currently at 28.6% in the UK. It involves:
- Consulting on introducing workforce reporting on the number of disabled people, for businesses with more than 250 staff – a move designed to improve inclusive practice across the UK’s biggest employers, and builds on existing gender reporting requirements.
- Increasing the number of disabled people employed by MI5, MI6, GCHQ, the Reservists and the civilian military by 2030. MI6 has set an interim target of 9% by 2025.
- Launching a new online advice hub available to both disabled people and employers which provides information and advice on disability discrimination in the workplace, flexible working and rights and obligations around reasonable adjustments. For the first time, the one stop shop will make it easier for disabled people to navigate the workplace.
- Piloting an Access to Work Adjustments Passport to help smooth the transition into employment and support people changing jobs. Pilots will be taking place this year focussing on young people leaving education and veterans leaving the armed forces. The Adjustments Passport will capture the in-work support needs of the individual and empower them to have confident discussions about adjustments with employers. It will also set an expectation with the employer that specialist aids and appliances move when their employee progresses in work or moves post.
The UK Government’s National Disability Strategy was formulated with the input of more than 14,000 disabled people as part of the UK Disability Survey, in one of the largest exercises of its kind. The DWP is now also urging disabled people across Britain to have their say in shaping the future of the benefits system following the launch of its Health and Disability Green Paper.
The Green Paper builds on the recent announcement that people entering the final year of their life will have fast-track access to the benefits system. The 6-month rule for people nearing the end of their lives claiming benefits will be replaced with a new 12-month, end of life approach, mirroring the current definition of end of life used across the NHS.
DWP Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said:
“I am incredibly pleased that in the course of putting this consultation together, we have been able to identify key themes for improvement.
“We already spend a record amount supporting disabled people and people with health conditions and have made good progress at supporting more disabled people into work, but we are ambitious for further improvement – and I am grateful to the disabled people and stakeholders who have contributed so far.”
The Green Paper will pave the way for a fairer future of the benefits system to better meet the needs of disabled people and those with health conditions, and is set to be informed by a series of virtual and face-to-face events covering England, Scotland and Wales.
It includes changes which could:
- Enable independent living and strengthening the role of advocacy so people who need extra help to navigate the benefits system get the right level of support and information first time.
- Review how assessments are carried out including embedding telephone and video assessments and looking at how reassessments work including testing a new Severe Disability Group (SDG) for people with severe and life-long conditions that will not improve. This could see those who meet the criteria experiencing a more simplified application process, without the need for an assessment to receive financial support.
- Improve support for disabled people to help them start, stay and succeed in work through the Work and Health Programme, Access to Work and on personalising employment support, recognising that one size does not fit all.
The consultation survey is available in a range of accessible versions here: https://getinvolved.dwp.gov.uk/05-policy-group/health-and-disability-green-paper/ with further details set out on Gov.uk.