Government rebuttal of disability strategy criticism does little to reassure public | Bolt Burdon Kemp Government rebuttal of disability strategy criticism does little to reassure public | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Government rebuttal of disability strategy criticism does little to reassure public

The Government has hit out at criticism of its National Disability Strategy after MPs said plans were impractical.

The strategy, published in July 2021, aims to address the difficulties facing people with disabilities.

But it was slammed in a report by the Women and Equalities Committee, with MPs claiming the Government had not properly engaged with people with disabilities or organisations representing them, or suggested policies for people with invisible disabilities – which affect 80% of the population. While MPs recognised the strategy represented positive progress, it was ultimately found to be lacking in a number of areas.

The committee’s so-called First Special Report, published in December, recommended the creation of a national advisory group which would have the power to review all Government policy proposals targeted towards people with disabilities.

The Government has now hit back saying it has provided an ambitious strategy that will improve the lives of people with disabilities across the country.

It wholeheartedly refuted allegations of not properly consulting with people with disabilities, saying there was extensive collaboration including roundtable discussions and meetings.

The Government rejected the proposed national advisory group, saying it would be a replication of the current Disability Unit Stakeholder Engagement Framework, which revolves around regular meetings with various stakeholders to help shape policy.

What next?

The committee also challenged the Government on the lack of engagement with the UN Committee in August 2023.

The Government’s response comes at an interesting time, just weeks before they are due before the UN Committee for violations of disabled people’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UN investigated the Government in 2016, with the UK being found guilty of systemic violations of the Convention in 2017.

This meeting is long awaited after the Government failed to attend with the UN Committee in August 2023 – a failure raised by the Women and Equalities Committee and downplayed by the Government in turn.

Generally, the Government’s response to the First Special Report reaffirms its commitment to improving life for people with disabilities, although it does little to reassure the public how it proposes to fulfil its promises.

The Government “appreciates” the recommendations raised by the Women and Equalities Committee but is somewhat evasive in its response. While some helpful explanations have been provided for wider concerns, there is an apparent effort to sidestep some of the particulars raised by the committee.

At BBK, we will continue watch the Government’s actions closely and monitor how they may impact our clients, injured people and people with disabilities.

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