Responding to the publication of the Government’s Disability Action Plan (5 February) Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum, said:
“We welcome the publication of the Disability Action Plan and many of the proposals set out within it. We are particularly pleased to see the mention of our “Technology for Life” concept which we believe could transform opportunities for disabled people throughout their lives. Now, we are calling on the Government to go further and to commit funding to make assistive tech available for everyone who needs it.
“We are also pleased to see the expansion of the remit of guide dogs to include assistance dogs. This is an area of immense importance to our Members, and something we have fed into Government on numerous occasions. We are also pleased to see a commitment to getting better data to measure disabled people’s daily life experiences and we will continue to work with Government on these data methodologies.
“There are actions to increase disabled people’s access to products and services across sectors, which we welcome, but we are unclear how businesses have been and will be involved. The absence of businesses’ voice in this space is a glaring oversight.
“We also question the omission of employment from the Action Plan. Work – good work – is a key life opportunity which at the moment is out of reach of far too many disabled people. For people who can work, good work can drive inclusion and a sense of identity as well as bring financial security. To make work a reality for more disabled people, we need greater investment in vital programmes such as Access to Work, yet this is missing from today’s Action Plan. We also need to see urgent reform to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to allow people to make a phased return to work. The current ‘all or nothing’ approach to SSP means that employees often feel forced to return to full hours before they are ready, which can then lead to further periods of sickness.
“The Disability Action Plan sets out an ambition to make the UK the most accessible place in the world. This can only happen if employment is made a reality for more disabled people.”
Go to Business Disability Forum’s Disability Action Plan page for further information about Business Disability Forum’s asks.