Caudwell Children CEO Trudi Beswick at the Caudwell International Children's Centre in Staffordshire

CEO’s response to new National Disability Strategy

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today announced the Government’s new National Disability Strategy.

This follows a commitment from the Prime Minister in 2019. You can read the strategy and the pledges within it here.

What is the National Disability Strategy?

The strategy sets out the actions the Government will take to improve the everyday lives of all disabled people in the UK in an effort to improve accessibility and equity of opportunity for the UK’s 14million disabled people.

Proposals will be presented to parliament today – before which the DWP has published the strategy on gov.uk, outlining plans to deliver more accessible housing, easier commuting and better job prospects for disabled people.

The Government has pledged to review the plan annually to measure progress against each of the actions and commitments set out in the strategy.

What does the National Disability Strategy contain?

 The strategy contains 120 commitments across all aspects of life. Here are some of the key commitments that are relevant to Caudwell Children and our beneficiaries:

  • More disability awareness training. This is such a welcome move – including the £3.82million of funding for schools and colleges in the next financial year – at Caudwell Children our beneficiaries have told us that lack of public understanding of their disability is the greatest barrier to them feeling included in society.
  • A focus on creating inclusive environments and playgrounds. Since designing and building the Caudwell International Children’s Centre we have been working with partners to improve accessibility and inclusive design guidelines to be implemented across the construction industry.
  • A commitment to train more educational psychologists. At Caudwell Children our in-house multi-disciplinary team work with schools and colleges and see first-hand how they implement Education, Health and Care plans (ECHP). Educational Psychologists play such a huge role in helping pupils with SEND get the support they need in education.
  • Plans for a consultation on mandatory workforce reporting on disability for large employers. This would take a similar approach to gender pay gap reporting. At Caudwell Children we support businesses to achieve effective diversity and inclusion programmes, and deliver a Digital Skills and Employability Programme where we see first-hand how many barriers are in place for disabled young people trying to access the workplace.
  • The introduction of an ‘Access to Work Adjustments Passport’. This is also relevant to our Digital Skills and Employability Programme as it would allow disabled people to take adaptations from one job, or training programme, to the next.

Our Chief Executive, Trudi Beswick, has responded to the proposals:

“Disabled people need to know what is going to change, how, and when. This report sadly falls short on delivering on those expectations in some of the key areas it addresses.

“While this is a far-reaching ambitious vision for improving the lives of disabled people, and there is welcomed clarity in some areas of daily life, unfortunately the same transparency is not apparent in some of the most important issues facing disabled people every day.

“The pandemic has deepened the inequalities that disabled people experience. So, while any plan with a clear ambition to level up opportunities is very welcome, the Government must urgently set out further detail.

“That must include a firm commitment to publishing the long awaited SEND review and guaranteed long-term investment to support health and social care services.

“There are positives within the new strategy, including; disability awareness training, building regulation and guidance, training educational psychologists and the consultation on mandatory disability reporting.

“We know from delivering our own employability programme that mandatory disability reporting is a long-overdue step to help improve diversity and equality of opportunity in every workplace.

“At the moment the strategy represents a potentially positive blueprint, but health and social care services are already overstretched – the system needs a collaborative approach to achieving clearly defined outcomes.

“The structural inequalities in our society need to be urgently addressed, to ensure as a country we build back better and fairer for disabled people.

“To deliver on that, further details and investment must be included in the upcoming spending review to improve opportunities for disabled people and help families recover from the pandemic.

“At Caudwell Children we will continue to work with partners from across Government to try and realise some of the ambitions outlined in this strategy, while delivering the vital practical and emotional support that disabled children and families need on a daily basis.”