So the General Election is upon us. We’ve seen what the Party’s have to offer disabled people. It’s been somewhat disappointing, both in tone and content. Here are five things that the various manifestos perhaps still offer an opportunity to pursue.
Independent Living reboot
Legislation to codify Article 19 of the UNCRPD, requiring local councils to lead on the production and implementation of independent living strategies within a national framework for action. A duty to involve disabled people. Support for a national network of independent, user led Access to Living Centres. Investment in social care, recognised as part of the national infrastructure. Reform of the Mental Capacity Act to codify models of supported decision making.
Inclusive economic growth
Action to narrow the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people embedded in national, regional and local economic growth strategies, and extracted from ‘welfare to work.’ DWP dissolved as a department of government. Personal employment support budgets replace the work programme and expert brokerage widely available. Significant increase in investment in the Access to Work scheme. A major focus on up-skilling disabled people, in particular those age 16-24 including through apprenticeships
Action on disability related costs of living
A holistic plan targeting the causes and consequences of extra disability-related costs of living. Includes strategic use of national and local government procurement power to drive down the costs of specialist equipment and technologies, incentives to business to innovate in producing inclusive products and services, ‘asset-based’ interventions such as supporting home ownership and the changing of rules, such as in relation to social care charges, which act as a disincentive to saving.
Tackling prejudice and promoting understanding
Seed resources provided by government to establish an organisation to co-produce and lead the implementation of a national plan to tackle prejudice towards disabled people and to promote understanding. Begins with in depth research to understand the nature of prejudice towards disabled people and the kinds of methods that are likely to prove effective in uprooting it.
Access to justice
There will be no financial cost of bringing a case to employment tribunals and consideration will be given to creating equality tribunals that will also hear cases regarding discrimination in the field of access to goods, facilities and services. A truth and reconciliation process will be established concerning the historic institutionalisation and ill-treatment of people with learning disabilities.