Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have asked the minister for disabled people to explain why the government is failing to consult with them on the development of its new cross-government disability strategy.
The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) said it had not been consulted itself and was not aware of any other DPO that had been approached by the government.
Instead, it said, the government appeared to be discussing the strategy – due to be published later this year – with the big disability charities and regional forums.
It said this was “deeply disappointing” and a breach of the UK government’s commitment to engage with DPOs under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
ROFA pointed out in its letter to Justin Tomlinson (pictured), the minister for disabled people, that he had not yet replied to a letter ROFA sent him a month ago, which itself requested “urgent engagement” on the strategy.
ROFA – whose members include Inclusion London, Disabled People Against Cuts, The Alliance for Inclusive Education, People First (Self Advocacy), Sisters of Frida and Equal Lives – called on Tomlinson to pause work on the strategy for three months so he could have “specific discussions” with ROFA and DPOs about the best way to engage with disabled people and their organisations.
In the letter, ROFA also detailed a series of measures that need to be introduced urgently during the COVID-19 crisis, in areas such as social security, health and social care.
These include calls for an immediate end to charging for social care; increased funding for disabled people who use direct payments to fund their support; and funding for local DPOs to provide advice and support services.
It also includes calls for COVID-19 advice for disabled people who are seen as being “at risk” because of their health condition; regular testing for disabled people and social care staff; and for the government to ensure Access to Work support is easily available for disabled people working from home during the crisis.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The government is strongly committed to ensuring that disabled people have a big say in determining our forthcoming national strategy, which is why we are working with disabled people and disability organisations as part of its development.
“We also intend to begin face-to-face engagement on national, regional and local levels as soon as wider circumstances allow.”
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