Government launches National Disability Strategy

The UK government has launched its National Disability Strategy which aims to bridge the gap in education, skills and employment for disabled people. 

The new strategy sets out actions the government will take to improve the everyday lives of all disabled people, however, it has been criticised for under-funding and not fully understanding the lived experiences of the people it seeks to help.

It said disabled employees must be properly catered for in the workplace, as to not waste talent and potential after the events of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there is a 28% gap in the employment rate of working age disabled people compared with working age non-disabled people.

The ONS also found that while the proportion of disabled people with a degree has increased  from 15.9% in 2013 to 2014 to 23% in 2019 to 2020, the gap between disabled people and non-disabled people has not narrowed.

The secretary of state for work and pensions and minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, said the strategy aims to positively impact each part of a disabled person’s everyday life.

It aims to do this by ensuring disability is considered straight away, with the government embedding inclusive and accessible approaches and services to avoid creating negative experiences.

Flexible working options and disability workplace reporting will also be considered as options to support disabled employees in the workplace. 

The Business Disability Forum’s head of policy, Angela Matthews, said while disability employment will benefit from flexible working, more needs to be done to turn this from a one-year plan into a strategy that transforms the life chances of disabled people.

A National Disability Strategy needs to take a whole-life approach to disabled people’s lives. The strategy has also been criticised for not going far enough by disability charities, as they have spoken out about how more support is still needed for disabled people to feel at ease in society.

The Disabled Children’s Partnership said while it welcomed the government’s stated ambition that disabled children and young people should have the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers, it doesn’t reflect their full lives

The governments National Disability Strategy is a step forward, but does not contain the actions needed to deliver transformational change. We need more ambition, scope and funding.

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