McVey describes the ‘shape of the future’ for disabled people


theweeksubThe government has announced how it intends to measure progress towards achieving greater opportunities for disabled people.

In new documents published this week, the Office for Disability Issues says its Fulfilling Potential disability strategy will focus on the six “themes” of education, employment, income, health and wellbeing, choice and control, and inclusive communities.

The Fulfilling Potential – Making It Happen documents provide details of how “headline” and “supporting” indicators will be used to show “where progress is being made and where work needs to be done” across each of the six themes.

The key headline indicators include the gaps between disabled and non-disabled people in educational attainment, employment rate and the amount of choice and control over their lives, as well as difficulty using transport.

The 50 supporting indicators that will also be used include hourly wage rates, the proportion of students who do not continue in higher education after their first year, households in fuel poverty, take-up of direct payments, access to the internet, and hate crime.

Every year, the government will publish information showing the progress it is making on the six themes.

The government has also released a new action plan, which describes activity across departments.

Esther McVey, the Conservative minister for disabled people, says in Making It Happen that the government wants to produce “the best possible opportunities” for fulfilling disabled people’s potential.

She says the government has found “a new way of doing things”, which “aims to involve, inspire and support all citizens to share in the shape of our future” through “dynamic and creative partnerships across sectors”, including her new Disability Action Alliance.

McVey revealed the new details of her disability strategy in a written statement in the House of Commons.

She told MPs that disabled people should be “enabled to achieve their aspirations and play a full role in society”, and she said the documents show “how disabled people are seeing improvements in many key outcomes and reduced inequalities with non-disabled people”.

Disability Rights UK (DR UK) welcomed the framework of outcomes and indicators, which would provide “the real test of how much progress is being made”, but it said that all government departments should be asked whether their policies “close these gaps of inequality” and provide “greater opportunities and freedoms” for disabled people.

Liz Sayce, DR UK’s chief executive, said: “We have received thousands of calls from disabled people who report that they are finding their lives increasingly difficult as they try to cope with the effects of welfare reform, cuts in personal budgets, and the lack of opportunities to get into work and to get on in work.”

And she pointed to DWP figures that emerged last week following a Freedom of Information Act request by Disability News Service, which showed that the number of disabled people in “absolute” poverty rose during 2011-2012 by 100,000.

Sayce said: “It is good to measure progress and to have aspirations for increasing equality but the government needs to ensure that all its policies are pushing in the same direction – not taking us one step forward and two steps back.”

4 July 2013