The Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit has set out plans for the creation of a national strategy aimed at removing barriers and increasing participation for disabled people. But it has warned that the coronavirus crisis will impact on the timescale for the work.
The unit – led by deputy director Sarah Baker, who joined from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in February – said the strategy would put fairness at the heart of government work and seek to “level up opportunity” to allow everyone to play a role in the life of the nation.
It said the strategy would include existing commitments, such as increasing special educational needs and disability funding to support pupils, students and adults to get careers advice, internships and transition into work at the same time as identifying further opportunities to improve things.
The Disability Unit pledged that the national strategy will “develop a positive and clear vision” on disability that will be “owned right across government”; make practical changes to policies that strengthen disabled people’s ability to participate fully in society; and ensure that the lived experience of disabled people underpins policymaking.
Further objectives include strengthening the ways government listens to disabled people and disabled people’s organisations, and using that insight to drive real change; and improving the quality of evidence and data to support policymaking and service delivery for disabled people.
However, the unit said the government’s need to prioritise the Covid-19 pandemic response had forced it to review its planned timescale for developing the strategy.
“We want to ensure we have enough time to get this right and undertake a full and appropriate programme of stakeholder engagement,” it said.
“People’s views and insights will be crucial as we work with colleagues across government, disabled people and other stakeholders on possible solutions.”
The unit said it was developing proposals for a digital-engagement programme to allow people to feed in their insights at a time when face-to-face engagement was impossible because of coronavirus.
“We recognise that many disabled people are not able to access digital means of communication, so this is a temporary approach,” it said.
“We will be undertaking extensive regional and local engagement once we can meet face to face again.”