National Disability Strategy 2021

What is the National Disability Strategy, what does Sense make of it and how will we know if it's a success?

About the National Disability Strategy

The National Disability Strategy is the government's plan to try to improve day-to-day life for disabled people. It was published in July 2021.

While we’re pleased to see the strategy published, and we believe it is a small step forward, it doesn’t deliver transformational change demanded by disabled people.

We want to see greater ambition, scope and commitment to funding. We call on the government to work with us, disabled communities and other organisations representing disabled people to help shape the implementation of the strategy further.

Change is needed to tackle the inequalities that disabled people face. For too long, disabled people and their families have been left out of government policies and decision making.

Read our full response to the strategy

Key tests for the National Disability Strategy

For the strategy to be a success, we believe that there are 5 key tests that it must pass:

  1. Involvement of disabled people: the National Disability Strategy is worthless if it doesn’t improve the lives and experiences of disabled people. The only way that this can be measured is if disabled people are involved in assessing the impact of actions. 

    There must be a clear and accountable way for disabled people to be able to feedback, review and hold the government to account on each action and the strategy as a whole. 
  2. Vision and ambition for the future: every strategy needs clear goals, ambition and measures for success. We know that transformation isn’t going to happen overnight and so need to see a strategy that has immediate changes that will be made, and clear direction for medium and long-term change.

    There must be a clear delivery plan alongside the strategy that sets out how and when it will be delivered, including the funding needed to do so.
  3. Transformation of cross-government working and policy development: Disabled people, and their needs, aren’t considered in policy-making processes. And government departments don’t work together. Which means we currently have policies that actively limit the ambitions and lives of disabled people and the opportunities that they have. 

    The strategy must lay the groundwork for how this would change and to set the bar high for inclusive policy development. 
  4. Looking at the whole lives of disabled people: All too often the ambitions of disabled people are limited by those around them, and the expectations and boundaries that society and services put on them. We need to see this transformed, so that all disabled people have equal access to life and the opportunities that it holds. 

    The strategy must include clear commitments from the government on how they will address the inequalities disabled people face.  This must include looking at support for disabled children and their families and social care reform.
  5. A strategy for ALL disabled people: too often we see policies and initiatives that exclude or don’t meet the needs of those with complex disabilities.

    The strategy must take into account the needs of people with complex disabilities and explicitly set out programmes and policies for this group.  Any plans for measuring progress and the impact of change on disabled people must be representative and include those with complex disabilities.  

The Disability Charities Consortium (DCC)

Sense is a member of the Disability Charities Consortium (DCC), which brings CEOs and policy leads from the UK’s leading influential not-for-profit disability organisations together. The DCC work with Government to ensure disabled people’s experiences are reflected in UK policy-making.

The DCC members are:

  • Scope
  • Leonard Cheshire
  • National Autistic Society
  • Mind
  • Mencap
  • Sense
  • Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
  • Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), and
  • Business Disability Forum (BDF)

In February 2021 we developed a manifesto, setting out what we wanted to see from the strategy.  This was shared with our networks and directly with the Disability Unit leading on the strategy. 

The DCC believe that the National Disability Strategy document will require considerable ongoing input from a broad range of communities and organisations represented by disabled people to shape its implementation.

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