WAYS to improve employment and tackling digital exclusion of disabled people are not included in the Government’s new Disability Action Plan, which aims to make the UK the most accessible place in the world for disabled people to live, work and thrive.
No details of how disabled people will find work seems to have been totally overlooked in the 48-page document.
And while there is mention of improving technology, there is no commitment to help people pay for adapted equipment – nor is there anything to address the worrying issue of the growing numbers of digitally excluded disabled people.
Latest figure from the Office for National Statistics shows that almost 60% of adults not using the internet are disabled.
Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum, said: “We question the omission of employment. Work – good work – is a key life opportunity which now is out of reach of far too many disabled people.
“To make work a reality for more disabled people, we need greater investment in vital programmes such as Access to Work, yet this is missing from the Action Plan. We also need to see urgent reform to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to allow people to make a phased return to work.
“The Disability Action Plan sets out an ambition to make the UK the most accessible place in the world. This can only happen if employment is made a reality for more disabled people.”
Criticism has also come from other charities.
Mel Merritt, head of Policy and Campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: “The Plan is a missed opportunity and fails to address the key issues that autistic people face.
“Just 29% of autistic people are in employment, 74% of parents don’t think their child’s school place meets their needs and 85% of people are waiting more than the recommended 13 weeks for an autism assessment.”
Richard Kramer, chief executive at Sense, said: “The plan contains many positive proposals. But the issues that matter the most to disabled people include pressures from the increasing cost of living, challenges with the benefits system and the ongoing social care crisis.
“These require long-term solutions to create a just society for disabled people. In a year where we will be heading to the polls, we hope to see all parties commit to creating the bold changes disabled people desperately need.”
The new Plan, which considered the views of more than 1,300 disabled people, include:
- Support disabled people who want to be elected to public office.
- Include disabled people’s needs in emergency and resilience planning.
- Include disabled people’s needs in climate-related policies.
- Improve information and outcomes for families in which someone is disabled.
- Make playgrounds more accessible.
- Help businesses understand the needs of and deliver improvements for disabled people.
- Explore if the UK could host the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
- Support people who have guide and assistance dogs.
- Help the government measure how effective its policies and services are for disabled people.
- Research issues facing disabled people in the future.
- Make government publications and communications more accessible.
- Improve understanding of the cost of living for disabled people.
- Promote better understanding of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) across government.
Mims Davies. Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: “We are building on this Government’s really strong track record of supporting and delivering for disabled people by using their key feedback to deliver vital, everyday changes to their lives and we have listened to their asks and are truly determined to deliver on them.”