Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Government disability strategy delayed - reasons unknown?

The Government recently confirmed a delay in publishing its disability strategy. Originally due to be published in the Spring, the Office for Disability Issues has now announced that the strategy will be released 'later this year' - and have refused to give an explanation for the delay. But I could make a good guess.

In its consultation document, asking disabled people to contribute ideas to its final strategy, the Government said it was "committed to enabling disabled people to fulfil their potential and have the opportunity to play a full role in their community." However I've written before that this commitment is completely at odds with the reality of the impact of cuts on the ground. Disabled people have been hit hard by cuts and changes to Employment support allowance, housing benefit, independent living funds, imminent introduction of PIP, care services provided by local authorities and tax credits. No wonder Lady Grey-Thompson, speaking to the Guardian in February, said: “I worry that it is going to become the way it was when I was young where you just didn’t see disabled people on the street because they were locked away.”

In its recent report ‘Destination Unknown’, the charity Scope demands that the Government look at the cumulative effect of cuts to multiple benefits and social care rather than assessing the impact of each cut in isolation. Without doing so Scope believes that “it is becoming increasingly difficult for disabled people to participate in everyday family and civic life”.

So I bet the delay is because the Government has no idea how to reconcile inclusion of disabled people in society with its raft of cuts that is making that goal more and more impossible. So lets see what Autumn brings, my bet will be another announcement that the strategy is delayed once again. The Government may be happy to implement the harshest of cuts on the most vulnerable of society, but this Government is focused on good PR and it doesn't have the guts to openly admit that disabled people are no longer of interest or importance to it.

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