National Disability Strategy survey

We urge DDPOs who share and support our concerns to take part in this survey and request an extension and clear plan of engagement from Government

Group of protesters outside Parliament

Dear DDPO colleagues:

Re: National Disability Strategy survey

We are forwarding onto you a public survey from the Government’s Disability Unit “to gather views and experiences for the National Strategy of Disabled People”. The survey will be open until 23 April 2021. It says “responses received before 13 February 2021 will inform the development of the National Strategy, while those received after this date used to inform its delivery”.

Our concerns

Inclusion London and Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance have serious concerns about the quality of the consultation process and the lack of meaningful engagement in developing the strategy with Disabled people and DDPOs. These concerns include :

  • A failure to inform, either in writing or at the DPO forum meetings, that the 13 February is the deadline for feeding into the development of the strategy.
  • A failure, since the strategy was announced in the Queens Speech last year, to provide any written information about the National Disability Strategy (NDS) or how the government plans to engage Disabled people and DPOs in its development. This is despite assurances from the Disability Unit that they would do so and despite Inclusion London, ROFA and other DPOs repeatedly requesting this in writing and at the DPO forum meetings over late summer and autumn.
  • A failure to respond to DPOs repeated requests that the DPO forum needs to be organised and planned in a way that will facilitate DPOs strategic engagement in the NDS (as well as a failure to make basic improvements to the forum like minutes being taken which has to date not happened ) . No changes have been made which is a huge lost opportunity for DPOs to feed into the strategy.
  • The governments decision to cancel the last two DPO forums in December and January without explanation were deeply frustrating but now in the light of this February cut off period it is inexplicable that these meetings have been canceled so close to the February deadline given this is the only way DPOs can engage directly with the disability unit and the Minister.

The above can only be described as a failure to carry out the most basic engagement with Disabled people and our organizations in what will be the first disability strategy since 2011. Considering we are still in an ongoing pandemic in which nearly 60% of COVID related deaths are Disabled people and given the significant body of evidence that shows Disabled people are now experiencing deeper structural inequality that is eroding our quality of life, and putting back our rights and inclusion, it is absolutely vital that there is real and meaningful engagement between DPOs and the Government in the development of the NDS.

Given the above we have formally written to the Minister and disability unit requesting that the NDS ‘development period’ is extended and that the Disability Unit draws up a plan for specific DPO engagement to take place in this extended development phase.

We would therefore urge DDPOs who share and support these concerns to include these concerns and the request for an extension of the development phase, coupled with a clear plan of specific engagement with DPOs, in your survey response.

Priority issues

Inclusion London will be filling out the survey and will including the following priority issues that we think any disability strategy worth its salt must include:

  • Making Independent Living a reality including: creating a legal right to independent living and setting up a National Independent Living Support service: free at the point of need, adequately funded by progressive taxation and delivered locally through partnerships between DDPOs and public and third sector
  • De-institutionalisation and the closure of residential institutions and hospitals for disabled children and adults including: urgent action to develop, resource and put in place appropriate community support, particularly non-clinical, user-led and culturally appropriate services, which promote the right to independent living of people who experience mental distress, people with learning difficulties and autism.
  • Radical reform of mental health and mental capacity laws:  People who experience mental distress/use mental health services and people who have autism and/or learning difficulties must have full human rights drawn from the UN CRPD.
  • Tackling structural inequality, intersectional discrimination and racism: this work is key to the ‘levelling up’ agenda and needs to include specific long term funding for BAME and other intersectional DPOs   
  • Tackling poverty and ensuring inclusive and adequate welfare support including: ending of sanctions and conditionality and the development of a social security system that meets the full costs of disability and provides adequate income protection.
  • Employment including: investing in rights based, high quality employment support, expanding and improving Access To Work and funding to support Disabled people and employers to create inclusive workplaces; stronger enforcement of rights and protections at work and mandatory monitoring of the disability pay gap by employers (with action plans to address any gaps.)
  • A fully inclusive education system including: urgent action to reverse rising rates of exclusions and segregated placements, tackle the SEND crisis and commit to the full implementation of article 24 of the UNCRPD
  • Access to Justice including: equal access to all aspects of our justice system. Cuts to legal aid must be reversed and provision of comprehensive, independent, accessible, free advice, advocacy and legal support must be created.  Disabled people must also be protected from adverse costs orders when taking legal action on discrimination. The EHRC need to have sufficient funding and capacity to pro-actively tackle discrimination including bringing back in-house equality and advisory support and ensuring provision of free mediation services for discrimination cases. Disability hate crime must also have parity in law with other hate crimes.
  • Housing including: a right to accessible housing under the principles of universal design, a house building programme, across both the public and private sector and raising accessibility standards for all new build homes.
  • Inclusion and full participation including: stronger enforcement of Equality Act 2010 and the implementation of section 1 of the Act; full implementation and enforcement of accessible public transport, public realm access and access to goods and services
  • Strategic support to DPOs including: long term core funding and commitment to a programme of co-production to develop and implement the National Disability Strategy
  • Climate emergency: Disabled people are made vulnerable by changes to the environment and the UK Government’s failure to act to reverse climate change.  The declaration of a climate emergency and the development of a climate emergency plan must ensure the needs of Disabled people are recognised and addressed.

Please take part in the survey here:

Kind regards,

Tracey Lazard
Inclusion London