Putting Disability at the Heart of Government

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2013 National Disabled Members' Conference
5 July 2013

Conference is concerned that the location of the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) and Minister for Disabled People in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) stigmatises disabled people as workshy, benefit scroungers. It suggests that the only policies that impact on disabled people are those related to benefits, particularly welfare reform.

This is not the case. Disability is a cross cutting issue. Every policy decision made, every piece of legislation passed and every change in procedure implemented could have an impact on disabled people.

For example, changes to Legal Aid, The Localism Act and the Children and Families Bill currently before Parliament will have a disproportionate impact on disabled people. These changes are not implemented by the DWP and there is little evidence that the impact on disabled people has been fully considered.

Conference recognises that the cuts to public sector jobs are having a disproportionately detrimental impact on our disabled members. Many are top of the list when it comes to redundancy. Disabled people often find it more difficult to get another job. Yet the government continues to support stereotyping of disabled people by implying that the only issues that impact on disabled people are benefits.

It is time the impact of policy and legislation changes on disabled people was considered from the start and not just as an afterthought. We believe the ODI and the role of Minister for Disabled People should be moved to a cross cutting department such as the Cabinet Office. This would put our issues and concerns are put right at the heart of government.

Conference calls on National Disabled Members Committee to work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to:

1)Highlight the negative impacts of locating the ODI in the DWP;

2)Lobby the government for the ODI and Minister for Disabled People to be moved to a cross cutting government department such as the cabinet office; and

3)Work with Labour Link to get relocating the ODI and Minister for Disabled People included in the Labour Party’s manifesto commitments at the next general election