Snap election puts co-production of Labour social security policies at risk

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Labour has refused to say what impact the snap election will have on its lengthy efforts to ensure that disabled people’s views are at the heart of its new social security policies.

Although it says the results of its Disability Equality Roadshow will still feed into the party’s development of its manifesto, it has refused to confirm that it has had to abandon plans for disabled people and their organisations to play a further crucial role in that process.

It is thought unlikely that the prime minister’s sudden announcement of a general election on 8 June has left time for the final stages of what the party previously pledged would be the development of co-produced policies on social security.

Labour’s new shadow minister for disabled minister, Marie Rimmer (pictured), has refused to comment on the impact of the snap election.

Her predecessor, Debbie Abrahams, first launched the Disability Equality Roadshow in December 2015 and then relaunched it about 12 months later.

The plan had been to visit 32 different areas of England, Scotland and Wales, listening to disabled people’s views and experiences, and asking for their help in designing a 21st-century social security system.

Abrahams said in December 2015: “The views and experiences of disabled people have to be right at the heart of, not just the overhaul of the work capability assessment, but other aspects of social security policy too.”

When she relaunched the roadshow in November 2016, after being promoted to shadow work and pensions secretary, Abrahams said it would “ensure the views and experiences of disabled people are at [the]centre of Labour’s policy making, as we look to transform social security to a holistic, person-centred system”.

A spokesman for Rimmer told Disability News Service in March that after the roadshows were completed, the information would be collected and analysed by “independent social policy academics”, who would identify “key policy themes”.

Those emerging themes would then be discussed with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations, and would feed into the party’s policy-making process.

But the final roadshow, in Sheffield, was scheduled to take place on 20 April, two days after the prime minister announced a general election for 8 June.

Despite repeated attempts by DNS to secure answers from Rimmer on how the party would be able to complete this further process of co-production in time for the general election, she would say only that “key policy suggestions outlined by disabled people” in the roadshows would be “fed into the party’s national manifesto process”.

She said in a statement: “Since last year’s launch, we have held Disability Equality Roadshows around the country, across the regions and nation states.

“We have met with disabled people, their carers and stakeholders to discuss their experiences and policy priorities.

“The key policy suggestions outlined by disabled people at the roadshow are being collated and fed into the party’s national manifesto process, ahead of the snap election on 8 June, where Labour’s policies for disabled people will be presented to the electorate.”

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