Today the government released their long anticipated disability strategy. Promised since 2019, it was said to be big and bold for the disability community. Having looked at it this morning, here’s my take on it.
Firstly the obligatory nod to the positives. The mention of improvement to housing, transport, education and employment is much needed. Indeed having a strategy for disabled people is in itself seldom and much needed. So credit where credits due.
Now to the concerns I have. Firstly, I’ve heard from many parts of our community that disabled people were not properly consulted in this process. Our Purple Goat strapline, inspired by the amazing disability activists, is ‘nothing about us without us’. This is so crucial for the success of any government policy, business product, and brand marketing campaign. How can a non disabled person make the right decision for disabled people and our families?
Secondly, where is the mention of health and social care? We’ve seen through this pandemic how disproportionately disabled people have been effected (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57652173). Yet with an already struggling system, the means by which the most basic of human rights are enabled (health, wellbeing, sustenance, going to the toilet) are completely left out of the conversation.
My final thought before you head off is around details. As much as the headlines look nice to the general public – £1.6bn on disabled people. How will that really get the job done within the mentioned parameters? Will disabled people get to lead the solution?
Take the London underground as a transport example. With 2/3 of the stations inaccessible for wheelchair users, you could easily spend £1.6bn on sorting this one issue alone.
So to conclude. It’s great we have a disability strategy, and if anything it helps us have better conversations. But without disabled people leading the conversation, and with no real long term plan, I’m left with more questions than true hope.