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Government confirms delay for disability strategy

Government confirms delay for disability strategy
29th May 2012 developer

The government has delayed the publication of its new disability strategy for at least three months, it has confirmed.

A consultation on the strategy ended in early March, and the government had promised that it would be published this spring.

But the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) has now told Disability News Service that the strategy will be published in September.

A discussion document published last December, Fulfilling Potential, provided few clues on the government’s direction, and asked disabled people to suggest “practical ways of making a real difference” to their lives.

Maria Miller, the Conservative minister for disabled people, warned in its introduction that there was “a challenging economic climate so we have to think about what our priorities should be”.

Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) had been concerned that the discussion document failed to suggest that the government had a strong or clear vision for disability equality.

Neil Coyle, DR UK’s director of policy and campaigns, said the original document had been “unclear in ambition or aims” and the government had been told that the strategy needed to be co-produced by disabled people.

He said he was glad the government appeared to have listened to those concerns from disabled people and DPOs.

He said: “I think what everyone really wanted to see was the government’s vision for how it would support disabled people to participate as equal citizens.

“We all hope (I think) that the final document will be clearer on what the government will do and how it will deliver its aims. We are glad the government listened.”

An ODI spokeswoman said it had been “working closely with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations to co-produce the strategy”.

She said a document to be published in September would set out a “strategic narrative, priority areas for further action, specific next steps, and how we would co-produce further plans”.

The document will “set out the vision for ensuring disabled people have better opportunities to realise their aspirations, with more choice and control over their lives and an approach to changing attitudes and behaviours in society”.

She said there would be a focus on how the government could strengthen the role of DPOs and other community groups, and it would address “how to improve key life transitions, improving information and advice, new approaches to early intervention, and improving the accessibility of the environment and services”.

The document will be followed by an action plan early next year.

The ODI has so far refused to explain why the strategy has been delayed.

29 May 2012