The Conservative Party Manifesto for the 2019 General Election made the following commitment: 'We want to transform the lives of disabled people, ensuring they have access to opportunities and are able to achieve their potential. We will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People in 2020 to ensure disabled people can lead a life of opportunity and fulfilment. Our strategy will be ambitious, supporting disabled people in all aspects and phases of their life.'
The CDG is committed to working in partnership with our members, disabled people, the disability community, Conservative MPs, Peers, MSPs, Members of the Senedd, Councillors and party members across the country to influence the contents of the Strategy. We will be listening to a wide range of various organisations and interested groups, as we put forward our proposals as to what we would like to see included in the Strategy and the opportunities for Government, civil society, businesses, local government and all citizens to have the opportunity to play their role in its implementation. We also want to see proper accountability measures in place so that the Government can be clear as to what its responsibilities will be, and be measured by them.
Over the course of our work on the Strategy we intend to use our annual Colloquium event in Parliament, to listen to the views of disabled people and their families and carers. We will also use our 'Accessible Politics' project and CDG Policy Forum Group to engage with various people on this important commitment in the party's manifesto.
Too many disabled people in our society continue to face prejudice, discrimination and fewer opportunities than non-disabled people. The Disability Strategy is an important opportunity for our society to be better placed to improve lives for all disabled people, and their families and carers.
Among the areas we will be discussing to see if they could be included in the Strategy would be :
- Reducing The Disability Employment Gap - To build on the success of Disability Confident and Access to Work, so that more employers benefit from the skills and talents of disabled employees, with more opportunities for career progression and training into high-skilled roles.
- Tackling Disability Hate Crime - To build on the government's track record and commitments to ensure that we make our country safer for disabled people and tackle disability hate come more effectively.
- More Awareness of Mental Health Issues - To build on investment in mental health services and support, and to ensure the mental health and well being of disabled people are better recognised and supported.
- More Opportunities For Civic Participation For Disabled People - To recognise the role of political parties to be pro-active in ensuring that more disabled people have opportunities to contest public office with the resources in place to support the reasonable adjustments in place for this to occur.
- Reform of Social Care To Support Working Aged & Older Disabled People - To build on the commitment in the Conservative Party Manifesto to create a cross-party consensus on the reform of adult social care. With a strong focus on recognising social care as an enabler to a good life for both working-aged disabled people, and older people too.
- Tackling Health Inequalities - To ensure that we tackle the historical health inequalities faced by disabled people.
- A More Inclusive Society For People With Learning Disabilities And/Or Who Are Autistic - To ensure that our society embraces the opportunity for a more inclusive society for people who just because they are different, have just as much to offer and contribute.
- Better Public Transport - To continue to make progress on making our public transport system more accessible for disabled people, including in aviation.
- A Commitment To Accessibility - A stronger commitment to see accessibility as integral to widening opportunities and participation in society for disabled people.
- Extending Educational Opportunities - To build on work in Further and Higher Education to extend opportunities for disabled people in education, including the provision of children with SEND.
- Welfare Reform - To build on best practice and build more flexibility into the system where appropriate.
- Businesses & New Start Ups - To further promote the value of an economy which has the environment for new business starts-ups, including for disabled entrepreneurs.
- Strengthening The Union - To ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom are able to share best practice and build on the achievements of disabled people.
- The Power of the Purple £ - To build on this government initiative so that businesses recognise the value of disabled consumers and their families and friends.
- More Representation Of Disabled People On Public Bodies - To ensure the under-representation of disabled people in our Public Bodies is addressed as a priority.
- The UK As A Global Leader On The Disability Agenda - To build on the UK's brand as a global leader in the field of disability inclusion and accessibility, and be ambitious about the opportunities this presents for the country.
- Participation in Sport - To create more opportunities so that more disabled people can participate in sports and activities which promote this aim.
We also recognise there will be many other areas for the National Disability Strategy to focus on, and we look forward to engaging with a wide range of individuals, organisations, businesses and charities as part of our work in this area.
On 26th May 2020 the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) announced it would be holding a CSJ Commission into the National Disability Strategy. The CDG looks forward to supporting the Commission which is Chaired by Lord Shinkwin, a Parliamentary Champion of the CDG. The former Minister for Disabled People - The Rt. Hon. Mark Harper MP - is also a Commissioner along with many other distinguished people.
More information on the Strategy is available here.