The Disability Charities Consortium (DCC) has created a manifesto to feed into the development of the Government’s National Disability Strategy to ensure disabled people’s experiences are reflected in UK policy making.

Members of DCC include Scope, Leonard Cheshire, Disability Rights UK, National Autistic Society, Mind, Mencap, Sense, Royal National Society of Blind people, Royal National Society for Deaf people, and Business Disability Forum.

The National Disability Strategy is expected to be published in the spring and aims to make practical changes to policies which strengthen disabled people’s ability to participate fully in society.

The DCC hopes to see the following form part of the National Disability Strategy:

  • Clear and tangible actions that will be taken, timescales, investment and measures for success.
  • Monitoring and accountability of progress, including leadership and participation by disabled people.
  • Engagement with disabled people that is accessible and meaningful. Online data collection must be one part of a wider consultation with multiple formats of participation enabled.
  • Clear and tangible routes for engagement that are timely and accessible and include updates on progress.
  • Most importantly of all, a clear way forward to bring transformation to disabled people’s life opportunities and participation.

It says the list is not exhaustive but reflects the key themes that are the highest priority for inclusion in the National Disability Strategy at this point in time.

Themes to be embedded in National Disability Strategy

It added that based on the work and experiences of the DCC organisations, the strategy should include six main themes that should be embedded into each of the above area of focus. 

The first is changing perceptions, which includes shifting public awareness on areas that affect disabled people and that increase levels of understanding about disabled people’s lives. It also includes enhancing the understanding and helpful behaviours of public servants and providers who have a role in delivering the above focus areas.

Enforcement bodies, such as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, also need increased appropriate resourcing so they can effectively and constructively challenge the services and providers who do not provide adjustments, accessible products, or inclusive delivery where they are required to do so.

Procurement is another theme. The DCC says tendering, selecting, and procuring suppliers for all public sector contracts and for all public functions must be subject to the potential supplier evidencing they can fulfil defined accessibility and disability inclusion requirements specific to each contract. This should apply to suppliers across all sectors. Ideally, it wants to see this applying to all delivery but it recognises that it is in working with the public sector that Government has greatest leverage.

Consultation and engagement is also important. This should be done from the stage of designing a policy, product, or service and continuing throughout the testing, implementation, and review stages. This should be part of a robust and ongoing fit for purpose equality analysis process which is required by all organisations who deliver public services.

The fifth theme was transitions into adulthood. It says that barriers for disabled people when transitioning to adulthood must be identified and removed in each of the above focus areas, particularly where it means changing policy settings (for example, from education to employment).

Data about disabled people’s lives must also improve. This includes repeating the Life Opportunities Survey, disability and employment and social care statistics to be published more regularly, and better recording at Government level of people’s disability or condition. This will allow better data-evidenced decisions about disabled people’s lives to be made.

The manifesto concludes: "The DCC welcomes the National Disability Strategy and we are therefore keen that the delivery of the Strategy will be as successful as possible.

"We would like to see the role of the Minister for Disabled People bolstered in both scope and resources. We recommend that this role should sit across Government rather than be based specifically in DWP to reflect the much wider remit of the role in covering all aspects of disabled people’s lives."