Minister seeks ideas for coalition’s disability strategy


The government is urging disabled people to suggest measures they would like to see included in its new disability strategy.

A discussion document, Fulfilling Potential, was launched today by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI), outlining three main areas: ensuring appropriate support, increasing individual choice and control, and changing attitudes and behaviour towards disabled people.

Now the government is asking disabled people to suggest “practical ways of making a real difference” to their lives.

The discussion document provides few clues on what the government plans to include in its disability strategy, while Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, warns in its introduction that there is “a challenging economic climate so we have to think about what our priorities should be”.

The ODI says it wants to build on disability strategies produced under the Labour government, including the Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People report, the Independent Living Strategy, and the Roadmap 2025.

It also says it plans to build on the UK’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The three-month consultation ends on 9 March 2012, with the government aiming to publish its new disability strategy next spring.

Miller, who has faced steady and angry criticism from the disability movement over her government’s cuts and reforms to disability services and benefits, claimed the coalition was “committed to enabling disabled people to fulfil their potential and have the opportunity to play a full role in their community”.

She said: “Some of the barriers in society which stop that happening have been removed over the past 40 years but there is far more to do, even at a time when the country’s finances are under great pressure.

“Working with disabled people, I now want to ensure that there is a clear focus in place across government so that the money that is available takes full account of disabled people.”

Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, which is being formed by the merger of RADAR, Disability Alliance and the National Centre for Independent Living, called on disabled people and disability organisations to take part in the consultation.

She said: “Disabled people face significant change in the support and services we use. One unified disability strategy from government would be very welcome to shape the changes and help measure success.”

1 December 2011