Boris Johnson’s bid to level up Britain with a plan to improve the lives of disabled people is “disappointingly thin”, leading charities have said.
The highly-anticipated National Disability Strategy unveiled today contains 100 immediate promises to address the needs of disabled people.
Disability Rights UK said the plan lacked the “strong foundations” those with disabilities need in order to enhance their lives.
Among the new measures, councils may be asked to build new inclusive children’s playgrounds in a bid to develop young people and tackle barriers behind the “simple enjoyment of play”.
But there is no mention of how existing playgrounds will be adapted to include children with disabilities.
Another public consultation will be held on whether employers with 250 or more staff should be forced to report on disability within their workforce.
The strategy did not set out when the apparently ineffective voluntary workforce reporting will be scrapped for the mandatory measures.
Kamran Mallick, Disability Rights UK CEO, said: “Despite being nearly 100 pages long, the strategy is disappointingly thin on immediate actions, medium-term plans and the details of longer term investment.
“Government speaks of ‘building back better,’ but disabled people’s lives have yet to be given the first set of strong foundations on which to build anything at all.”
The measures will see every department in Whitehall creating a number of actions on tasks to help disabled people fully integrate into society.
The 114 page document details actions which will be taken, followed by timeframes and the department responsible for implementing them.
Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People told a media briefing this plan is “not a one off annual document”.
“We will be held to account. Every year [every department] will need to come up with new policies to support disabled people”, he added.
The scheme has been hailed as the first “true” cross-governmental approach to disability.
A government official said the Prime Minister was so committed to the strategy, he had written his first personal note to Cabinet on the subject.
The PM tied this strategy to his wider agenda of “levelling-up”.
Describing the plan, Mr Johnson said: “Just as our talented Paralympians are set to take the stage in Tokyo next month, at home we are harnessing that same ambition and spirit, to build a better and fairer life for all disabled people living in the UK.
“As we emerge from the long shadow of Coronavirus, I want to build back better and fairer, for all our disabled people – and this strategy is the down payment on making that happen.”