Theresa May announcement on disability 25 June

Inclusion London responds to the PM’s announcement of a “new drive to tackle barriers faced by disabled people”

Just weeks before she leaves office, Theresa May has announced “new measures to break down barriers faced by disabled people”. In the Government Press Release issued on 25 June, these “new measures” include:

  • a new cross-government disability team, incorporating the Office for Disability Issues (ODI)
  • consultation on higher accessibility standards for new housing
  • consultation on new measures to help employers better support disabled people

Our chief executive, Tracey Lazard gave the following statement to the Disability News Service:

“Though there are a couple of welcome changes in this government announcement like moving the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) out of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), much of what is detailed is the re-starting of work the government should be doing but made a political decision to stop doing years ago, like the collection of data on Disabled peoples outcomes. Likewise, though we welcome the commitment to a cross government approach there is no mention of developing a new disability equality strategy (we have not had one since 2015) and we are very concerned that the ODI, already cut by 70%, may be absorbed into a generic equality Hub thereby weakening even further the focus on disability equality.

At a time when the UN found this government to be systematically violating Disabled people’s human rights, when hundreds of thousands of us lost our independence and became prisoners in our homes because of devastating cuts to social care, when our community are amongst the most affected by the punitive welfare reform and when we continue to face discrimination on daily basis and are unable to challenge it, we need much more than this.

We need the government to acknowledge the disproportionate impact 10 years of austerity has had on Disabled people. We need the government to commit to investing in the support and services we need to get our equality and inclusion back on track and we need the government to commit to strategic and meaningful engagement with Disabled People’s Organisations. Only then can we really begin to tackle the exclusion and discrimination we face, and address the crisis happening right now in our key services including inclusive education and SEND provision, social care, housing, social security and access to justice.”