DPOs to write to minister over exclusion from social care meeting

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Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) are to write to the care minister to protest at her decision to organise a meeting to discuss the future of working-age social care without inviting a single DPO.

The failure to invite any DPOs to the “roundtable” event emerged last week after the disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell had asked the government to extend the scope of its green paper on older people’s social care to include working-age disabled people with care needs.

The green paper was announced in November, but it frustrated campaigners when the government revealed that it would examine the care needs of older people, while “a parallel programme of work” would look at working-age disabled people.

The plan to hold a roundtable event was revealed by the junior health and social care minister Lord O’Shaughnessy in his response to Baroness Campbell, and he said that those invited included the charities Mencap and Scope.

Baroness Campbell later discovered that no DPOs had been invited, although she herself has now been asked to attend the event, which was set to take place yesterday (Wednesday).

She had planned to raise her concerns at the exclusion of DPOs at the meeting.

Now the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is to write to care minister Caroline Dinenage to express its alarm at the failure to invite any DPOs to the meeting, and is appealing for other DPOs to sign its draft letter.

The letter, drafted by Tracey Lazard (pictured), chief executive of ROFA member Inclusion London, calls on the government to ensure that DPOs are “actively involved in the Government’s work-stream to look at social care for working age Disabled people”.

It says: “Our organisations, run and controlled by Disabled people, are able to provide valuable insights into the lived experience of social care users, including an understanding of key barriers and identification of potential solutions.

“There is an important and fundamental difference between the national charities who speak for Disabled people and DPOs where we speak for ourselves.”

The letter adds: “We support concerns raised by Baroness Jane Campbell that a round-table has been organised in Parliament on 28 February to which no single DPO has been invited and would ask for assurances that this exclusion will be rectified going forwards, with meaningful and accessible involvement of Disabled people and our organisations embedded within the work-stream.”

The letter points out that last August’s concluding observations of the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities – which had been reviewing the progress of the UK in implementing the UN’s disability convention – called on the UK government to ensure “close collaboration” with DPOs.

The concluding observations also called for “close consultation” with DPOs to draw up “appropriate strategies in the area of social support and living independently”, and for a comprehensive independent living plan to be “developed in close collaboration” with DPOs.

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