The Government’s new Disability Action Plan: A good start but there’s a long way to go | Bolt Burdon Kemp The Government’s new Disability Action Plan: A good start but there’s a long way to go | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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The Government’s new Disability Action Plan: A good start but there’s a long way to go

Last week the Government announced a new Disability Action Plan for the UK and while it is welcome news, disability groups say more needs to be done.

The plan sets out 32 proposed actions that you can read more about here.

The plan includes:

  • Building an online information hub for local authorities on creating accessible playgrounds.
  • A fund to help disabled people get into elected office.
  • The UK to explore hosting the 2031 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
  • A new working group to educate businesses on the legal rights of assistance dog owners and make it simpler to report when they are refused access to a business.
  • Leading new research into emerging issues affecting disabled people in the UK over the next 20 years.

The Government has stated their plan is a further step in the work they have been doing to support people with disabilities. This includes helping 1.3 million more disabled people into work since 2017. They have also stated that they have increased funding for the education of children and young people with more complex needs by 50% over the last five years.

There has been mixed reaction to the plan on social media and the press. Whilst many are happy with parts of their plan there does seem to be a strong consensus from the disabled community that it does not go far enough.

One of the specific actions raised is ‘a new fund to support disabled people who want to be elected to public office’. However, until March 2020 the UK Government ran the Access to Elected Office Fund. When the fund was stopped in 2020 it was met with criticism, in particular from Disability Rights UK. Whilst it is fantastic this fund has been reinstated it is disingenuous to describe it as a ‘new’ fund, as it is simply a reintroduction of the previous one.

There has also been widespread criticism that the plan fails to address employment issues. Disability groups have called for greater investment into programs such as Access to Work. There are also calls for reform to Statutory Sick Pay to allow individuals a phased return back to work. This would help individuals back into work and prevent reoccurring sickness.

Disability activists including Diane Lightfoot, CEO, of the Business Disability Forum have criticised the lack of focus on employment issues and highlighted the importance of ensuring those who have a disability can find work and especially ‘good work’.

One of the key criticisms of the plan is that whilst a lot of the proposals are very positive there is concern that much of the plan may not be implemented. A lot of the proposals are not due to be actioned until 2025 or after, and with the current polling, it is unlikely we will have the same disability minister or Government.

We will continue to watch the Government’s actions closely to see the impact these changes have on our clients, injured people, and the wider disabled community. If you would like to take a look at the issues we are lobbying on, you can view our campaigns here.

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