Letter to Prime Minister re Disability Strategy Consultation

Letter Re: Disability Strategy Consultation

 

18th February 2021

 

To: Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, and 

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP

 

Dear Sirs,

We write to express our deep concerns about the survey being used to inform the consultation on the National Strategy for Disabled People.

Whilst we welcome a rethink on what the nation’s strategy for Disabled people should be, we believe, as it currently stands, the consultation is:

a.    Not in compliance with the Equality Act 2010.

b.    Not fit for purpose, in as much as it is open for contributions that can influence the upcoming Draft Strategy for 4 weeks – a breach of all accepted practice and the government’s own Compacts with the Voluntary and Community Sector pre-2015, namely that the government will – ‘conduct 12-week formal written consultations with clear explanations and rationale for shorter time-frames or a more informal approach’ [The Compact, 2010-15, published December 2010, Crown copyright 2010].

c.     Not, as your website claims, based on: 

“engagement nationally and across the regions with a diverse network of stakeholders, including leading charities, Disabled people’s organisations and individuals from all parts of society that are affected by disability.”.

d.    Not accessible to many Disabled people, because:

– There has been insufficient time in which to obtain the consultation in accessible formats and digest the contents, in preparation for responding to it;

– The lockdown means those many Disabled people who are digitally excluded – a key issue in our community – have not even heard about it;

– The Word version of the survey is itself not accessible because of a failure in its formatting;

– There is no plain text version of the survey on offer;

– The online survey is inaccessibly long for almost everyone of us: those who struggle with concentrating for significant amounts of time, those who cannot view a screen for long periods of time, those who experience fatigue, those with dexterity difficulties, etc and even the digitally familiar have reported that they “lost the will to live” trying to complete it; 

– The structure and the relevance of questions need to be addressed along with the restriction of words allowed on the final few questions; 

– There is no telephone option for Disabled people to use, to obtain assistance to fill in the forms. 

 

We therefore call upon you to: 

• 1. Withdraw the consultation immediately.

• 2. Instigate a 6-month period of meaningful consultation and engagement with national, regional and local organisations of Disabled people (DPOs), organisations for Disabled people and individual Disabled people, across the country.

• 3. Re-launch a public consultation, after all of the above has been completed, with downloadable copies in all accessible formats available on the website, from day 1 of the consultation – including the option to undertake telephone interviews to be conducted during the consultation. 

•4. Separate out the Disabled people’s survey from the Carer’s survey.

• 5. Ensure there is an option to allow organisations to respond to the survey as well. 

• 6. To undertake a mass media and targeted marketing strategy to ensure all disabled people are made aware of the strategy and how they can take part. 

•7.  Publish the Government’s intended strategy in draft form for public comment before final publication.

 

At a time when the country is in a Covid-19 induced, profound economic recession, we need to ensure that every penny we spend is highly effective.  Millions of pounds are wasted every year by businesses, and the statutory and voluntary sectors because they make decisions without the input of Disabled people – whether it is an accessible loo built to accommodate manual wheelchairs when most use electric ones, or an employment initiative that focuses on the individual without addressing the assumptions about what Disabled people can and can’t do by those who make recruitment decisions.  

Make every decision count by listening to those that the decisions affect: in this case, Disabled people. 

This letter is a petition sent and supported by the organisations listed below and we truly expect your urgent action on this petition. 

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss our concerns with you and your colleagues as a matter of urgency. 

Kindest regards 

Andrew Hodgson, President, National Federation of the Blind of the UK  

Laura J Welti, Forum Manager and CO, Bristol Disability Equality Forum 

 

Supporting Organisations:

 

1) National Federation of the Blind of the UK.

2) Bristol Disability Equality Forum.

3) Access Committee for Leeds.

4) Independent Disability Council of Leeds.

5) David Melling, Director Centre for Deaf People.

6) Parent Carers Autism Support Group. 

7) East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Group.

8) Bristol ILAG [BRIL].

9) Pocklington Lodge Tenants Association.

10) Shelagh Hetreed, Nilaari Agency.

11) Sightseekers.

12) Alstrom Syndrome UK.

13) Eastbourne Disability Involvement Group.

14) Eastbourne Access Group.

15) Inclusion London.

16) Action on Disability.

17) Walsall Branch National Association Retired Police Officers.  

18) Defiant Sports.

19) Eastbourne Blind Society.

20) The West London Residents Association.

21) Hackney Disability BackUp.

22) East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action.

23) Deaflinks Staffordshire.

24) Hearing Loss Cornwall.

25) Volunteer Cornwall.

26) Possibility People.

27) Blind Aid.

28) Sight Support Derbyshire.

29) Rev Canon Gill Behenna, Chaplain with the Deaf Community, Diocese of Bristol.

30) Southampton Sight.

31) Buckinghamshire Disability Service.

32) JPK Sussex Project – East Sussex.

33) Age UK Somerset.

34) Leicester Disabled People’s Access Group.

35) Middlesex Association for the Blind.

36) Tamworth and Lichfield Brain Injury Support Group, Headway Branch.

37) National Association of Disabled Staff Network.

38) Blind Veterans UK. 

39) South Lincolnshire Blind Society.

40) Vin West MBE (Chair) and Jan Underwood (member) Arfon Access Group.

41) East Sussex Association of Blind and Partially Sighted People ESAB.

42) Blackburn and District Blind Society.

43) Eastbourne & District Branch of National Association Retired Police Officers.

44) Inclusive Public Space Project University of Leeds.

45) Enfield Vision.

46) Metro Blind Sports.

47) Enfield Town Residents Association.

48) My Sight Notts.

49) Insight Gloucestershire.

50) Derbyshire Branch National Association Retired Police Officers.

51) Humberside Branch National Association Retired Police Officers.

52) Essex Sight.

53) Altrincham & District National Association Retired Police Officers.

54) Disabled People Against Cuts [National DPAC].

55) Disabled People Against Cuts [Berkshire branch].

56) Bury & District National Association Retired Police Officers.

57) Prof. Rod Michalko PhD, University of Toronto [retired].

58) Rochdale National Association Retired Police Officers.

59) Swansea Association Independent Living CIC.

60) Swansea Disability Forum.

61) Being the Boss.

62) Enfield Transport User Group.

63) Disability Huntingdonshire.

64) Newcastle Vision Support.

65) Artemi Sakellariadis, The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE).

66) Alternative BAME VI Network Inc. 

67) Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP).

68) Visually Impaired Sailing Association of Great Britain VISA-GB.

69) See Ability.

70) Learning Disability Wales.

71) Sight Concern Worcester.

72) Trish Vallance, Bristol Sensory Impairment Team & advisor to Bristol Deaf Health Group.

73) Oxfordshire Association for the Blind.

74) Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA).

75) Support for Sight.

76) Reaching People.

77) VISTA.

78) Royal Surrey Disability and Wellness Network.

79) Cirencester and South Cotswold Access Group. 

80) Warwickshire Vision Support.

81) Accrington and District Blind Society.

82) People First Forum.

83) Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.

84) Rotherham Sight & Sound.

85) Tony Crowhurst, Disability Advice Project.

86) Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind. 

87) N-Vision, Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Society for the Blind.

88) Darlington Association on Disability.

89) Blesma, the Limbless Veterans.

90) Barrow and Districts Society for the Blind.

91) Sight for White.

92) disAbility Cornwall & Isles of Scilly.

93) East Cheshire Eye Society.

94) Newcastle Disability Forum.

95) Learning Disability England.

96) Skills for People.

97) Disability North.

98) Disability Labour.

99) Swansea Disabled People Against Cuts.