One small step, but no giant leap

Gemma Hope

Gemma Hope, Director of Policy, talks about our verdict on the National Disability Strategy and the impact it will have on disabled people.

Resident and carer laughing together

Our verdict at Leonard Cheshire? The long-awaited National Disability Strategy will do little to address long-standing social inequalities on its own, but it is a good first step.

Yes the strategy targets a wide-range of issues, from housing to leisure and rights amongst others. But unfortunately, this opportunity to really review life for disabled people in the UK falls short of its vision. 

There were some positive moments in this strategy. The consultation on mandatory workforce reporting and additional support for disabled jobseekers is welcome, but none of this is new.

What's missing from the strategy

A clear vision for the future of disabled people in the UK was missing. Funding commitments were missing, and timings (on the introduction of tactile paving at train stations, for example). What changes should anyone anticipate after reading this strategy? You’d be hard-pushed to identify many that you could hold the government to account on.

And where was social care? As our new campaign #CareForEquality rightly highlights, social care plays a pivotal role in many working-age disabled people’s lives. It’s general omission from this strategy is deeply worrying.

That is why we joined other charities in writing to the Prime Minister with our concerns that there was no long-term planning in the National Disability Strategy. We also wanted to see more consultation with disabled individuals and organisations. 

Looking to the future

This strategy though, isn’t an end point, but hopefully the start of a new direction for the government. It’s encouraging that the strategy doesn’t look to be a one-off, but the beginning of a series of annual iterations. That multi-year, properly funded approach with real commitments and targets will be critical to creating real change. 

We want more than words from the strategy. We want a bold blueprint for the future, and we’ll get that by co-designing its goals with disabled people and ensuring we know what success really looks like for those the strategy hopes to help. Disabled people and organisations need to have an equal hand in it. 

This approach must be created with disabled people and organisations. At Leonard Cheshire, we’re going to try secure just that, by continuing to work with government, employers and other disability organisations