What do we want from the new cross-government approach to disability?

01 November 2019

Today, the Office for Disability Issues moves out of the Department for Work and Pensions and into Cabinet Office. This means there is now a Disability Unit in Cabinet’s new Equalities Hub, which sits alongside the Race Disparities Unit in the Government Equalities Office (the latter which focusses on women, transgender, and sexual orientation).

ODI logoThe move of the Disability Unit to Cabinet Office realises the vision of the eagerly-awaited cross-government approach to disability envisaged to, in the Government’s words, “bring the voices of disabled people into the heart of Government”.

Diane Lightfoot (CEO of Business Disability Forum) and Angela Matthews (Head of Policy and Research at Business Disability Forum) have been part of the discussions with Government about shaping what a cross-government approach to disability should look like. Diane and Angela have also been working with the Disability Charities Consortium, which consists of the CEOs and policy leads from some of the major disability charities in the UK, to influence how a sustainable and effective cross-government approach to advancing opportunities and making better the lives of disabled people in the UK should look.

What does BDF want from this new cross government approach to disability?

A cross-government approach to disability is a critical opportunity for each policy area to communicate with each other more effectively and move together in the creation and delivery of disability related policies, in a way which is not happening at the moment. As an example, the Government published an Inclusive Transport Strategy which stated that inaccessible transport is having an impact on disabled people getting into work at a similar time as reducing funding for transport related Access to Work support.

A cross-government approach should prevent such situations and conflicting messaging from occurring in future. It is a great opportunity for disability related policy development to move together to ensure increased consistency in terms of messaging and delivery timeframes.

We hope the first priorities for the new cross-government approach will be to fulfil in a more integrated way the policies it has already promised and begun, such as the Inclusive Transport Strategy and the Improving Lives Strategy. We also eagerly await the outcome of the recent ‘Health is Everyone’s Business’ consultation which covers many crucial areas that contribute to good work-related outcomes for disabled people, such as occupational health, workplace adjustments, return to work, and Statutory Sick Pay.

Business Disability Forum therefore hugely welcomes the opportunities a cross-government approach brings and continues to be involved in supporting its development.

Read the full news story on the Government’s website here.