The new government has downgraded the importance of the role of the minister for disabled people, just days after winning the general election.
The ministerial post had previously been a junior ministerial role until the October 2013 appointment of Mike Penning, who became a minister of state.
At the time, Penning said: “Making this a senior ministerial post shows the government’s commitment to disabled people and ensuring everyone can get on in life.”
His successor as minister for disabled people, Mark Harper, was also a minister of state.
But following last week’s announcements by prime minister David Cameron of his new government, it has emerged that the new minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson (pictured), will be merely a junior minister, or under-secretary.
Kate Green, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said: “What disabled people need and deserve is a minister who understands the issues, commands respect of colleagues and will stand up for their rights.
“Downgrading the role in government calls into question the importance David Cameron gives to the interests of disabled people.”
Since his appointment, Tomlinson has not responded to a request from Disability News Service for an interview.
Despite Penning’s comments in 2013, a spokesman for Number 10 said: “The status of the office of minister for disabled people remains unchanged.
“Ministerial ranks are based on the experience of the office holder and do not have any bearing on the importance of the office itself.”
When asked whether this contradicted the remarks made by Penning, he refused to comment further.