National Disability Strategy survey
ALLFIE urges Members and Disabled People’s Organisations to hold Government to account for eroding our rights! Complete the survey, plus demand an extension and engagement plan.
Dear ALLFIE supporters,
We ask you to once again step up for the rights of ALL Disabled people, to hold the Government to account for the erosion of our rights and living standards over the last decade!
This 2-part briefing covers:
- Call to Action: Take part in UK Disability Strategy Survey
- Our concerns: Deadline extension and Government engagement plan
1. Call to Action: Take part in UK Disability Strategy Survey
The Disability Unit in the Cabinet Office has launched a public survey to gather views and experiences for the National Strategy for Disabled People, to be published this year. The UK Disability Strategy Survey provides an opportunity for you to have your views heard – to hold the Government to account for the erosion of our rights and living standards over the last decade – and suggest ways they can implement the UN CRPD.
The survey itself is what you would expect from one produced by non-disabled civil servants and Disabled people who are not part of the disability movement (see our concerns below). The only opportunity for us to have our say is at the end in questions 111-113:
- 111: Thinking about your life, what are the top 3 changes that would make your life better/or improve your life?
- 112: If you feel we have missed any issues or barriers, can you please set these out here?
- 113: Building on your experience or insights, can you suggest any solutions to issues raised or how to remove barriers?
Please state answers to these question using 100 words maximum. These could include the following priority issues that we think any worthwhile disability strategy must include:
- A fully inclusive education system within mainstream settings including: Urgent action to reverse rising rates of exclusions and segregated placements, tackle the SEND crisis and commit to the full implementation of article 24 of the UN CRPD.
- Tackling within disability structural racism, intersectional inequality and discrimination: This work is key to the ‘levelling up’ agenda and needs to include specific long-term funding to address racism and intersectional inequalities and injustices experienced by Disabled people.
- Making Independent Living a reality including: creating a legal right to independent living and setting up a National Independent Living Support service: free at the point of need, adequately funded by progressive taxation and delivered locally through partnerships between DDPOs and public and third sector.
- De-institutionalisation and the closure of residential institutions and hospitals for Disabled children and adults: Urgent action must be taken to develop, resource and put in place appropriate community support, particularly non-clinical, user-led and culturally appropriate services, which promote the right to independent living of people who experience mental distress, people with learning difficulties and autism.
- Radical reform of mental health and mental capacity laws: People who experience mental distress/use mental health services and people who have autism and/or learning difficulties should have full human rights drawn from the UN CRPD.
- Tackling poverty and ensuring inclusive and adequate welfare support including: ending of sanctions and conditionality and the development of a social security system that meets the full costs of disability and provides adequate income protection.
- Employment including: investing in rights based, high quality employment support, expanding and improving Access To Work and funding to support Disabled people and employers to create inclusive workplaces; investing in rights based, high quality employment support, expanding and improving Access To Work and funding to support Disabled people and employers to create inclusive workplaces; stronger enforcement of rights and protections at work and mandatory monitoring of the disability pay gap by employers (with action plans to address any gaps).
- Access to Justice including: equal access to all aspects of our justice system. Cuts to legal aid must be reversed and provision of comprehensive, independent, accessible, free advice, advocacy and legal support must be created. Disabled people must also be protected from adverse costs orders when taking legal action on discrimination. The EHRC need to have sufficient funding and capacity to pro-actively tackle discrimination including bringing back in-house equality and advisory support and ensuring provision of free mediation services for discrimination cases. Disability hate crime must also have parity in law with other hate crimes.
- Housing including: a right to accessible housing under the principles of universal design and a house building programme, across both the public and private sector that is compliant with accessible housing building regulations and lifetime homes standards.
- Inclusion and full participation including: stronger enforcement of Equality Act 2010 and the implementation of section 1 of the Act, full implementation and enforcement of accessible public transport, public realm access and access to goods and services.
- Strategic support to DPOs including: long term core funding and commitment to a programme of co-production to develop and implement the National Disability Strategy.
- Climate emergency: Disabled people are made vulnerable by changes to the environment and the UK Government’s failure to act to reverse climate change. The declaration of a climate emergency and the development of a climate emergency plan must ensure the needs of Disabled people are recognised and addressed.
2. Our concerns: Deadline extension and Government engagement plan
“There is a clear failure of the Disability Unit to demonstrate meaningful engagement with DPOs and take seriously the essential contributions they can offer.” Joe Whittaker, ALLFIE Trustee
The Disability Unit in the Cabinet Office claims it is:
“working with government colleagues, disabled people, disabled people’s organisations, charities and businesses to develop and deliver a National Strategy for Disabled People.”
However this is not the case. Last Thursday ALLFIE received notification from the Government’s Disability Unit of the UK Disability Survey – an online questionnaire going live on Friday designed to inform the National Disability Strategy (NDS). This is the first ALLFIE knew about this survey despite being on the DPO Forum with the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson and the civil servants from the Disability Unit. The last 2 meetings of this group have been unilaterally cancelled by the Minister, without consultation.
One of the most concerning aspects of this survey is the ridiculously short timescale for Disabled people to respond:
“The survey will be open until 23 April 2021. Responses received before 13 February 2021 will inform the development of the National Strategy, while those received after this date used to inform its delivery”.
Our sister organisations have issued a letter to the UK Government, calling for a deadline extension and engagement with Disabled People’s Organisations. ALLFIE fully endorses this response, so clearly detailed by Tracey Lazard on behalf of Inclusion London below:
“I am frankly shocked and dismayed to receive this information in the light of the following:
- At no point have we received any information, either in writing or at the DPO forum meetings, that the 13 Feb mentioned is the cut off period for feeding into the development of the strategy.
- At no point have we received any written information about the NDS or how the government plans to engage Disabled people and DPOs in its development, despite assurances from the disability unit that they would do so and despite us repeatedly requesting this in writing and at the DPO forum meetings over late summer and autumn. We have received a couple of brief verbal NDS updates at previous DPO forum meetings but without any written information these updates have been totally inadequate as a way of enabling DPOs to engage in the development of the NDS
- We have consistently requested that the DPO forum is organised and planned in a way that will facilitate DPOs strategic engagement in the NDS (as well as requesting basic improvements to the forum like minutes being taken which has to date not happened) but no changes have been made. This presents a huge lost opportunity for DPOs to feed into the strategy.
- The decision to cancel the last two DPO forums in December and January without explanation were deeply frustrating but now in the light of this cut off period it is inexplicable that these meetings have been canceled so close to the Feb deadline given this is the only way DPOs can engage directly with the disability unit and the Minister.
The above can only be described as a failure to carry out the most basic engagement with Disabled people and our organizations in what will be the first disability strategy since 2011.
Considering we are still in an ongoing pandemic in which nearly 60% of COVID related deaths are Disabled people and given the significant body of evidence that shows Disabled people are now experiencing deeper structural inequality that is eroding our quality of life and putting back our rights and inclusion it is absolutely vital that there is real and meaningful engagement between DPOs and the Government in the development of the NDS.
Given the above I am formally requesting that the NDS development period is extended and that the disability unit draws up a plan for specific DPO engagement to take place in this extended development phase.”
Tracey Lazard, Inclusion London
We have not yet had a response to these concerns. We urge DPOs to share and support our concerns and stand in solidarity. If you feel strongly about this issue please contact: mailto:email@example.com
We will keep you informed of any response we receive and other actions we intend to take. If you have any feedback or would like any further guidance please contact ALLFIE at: firstname.lastname@example.org