On Wednesday 28 July, the government released the long-awaited National Disability Strategy (NDS). Cross-governmental in nature, the strategy aimed to join up disability support from different departments and committed to putting disability inclusion higher on the political agenda. Chris Luck, CEO of Shaw Trust, has written a response to the strategy.
We welcome the ambition of the strategy and the inclusion of Shaw Trust’s previous recommendations. This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction with the strategy indicating that the government is serious in taking forward a new way of approaching policy and decision-making at the national level with the involvement of disabled people. This is extremely encouraging to see and an opportunity for the strategy to be pushed further to deliver the transformation the government promised for the disabled population.
As a charity founded to support disabled people into work, and a mission to give everyone access to good work and employment irrespective of barriers through our ‘child to career’ strategic approach, we very much welcome several of the government measures set out in the NDS, as these align with our overall mission and ethos. The NDS acknowledges the need for a set of robust commitments to tackle the personal, social, and economic barriers for disabled people to participate inclusively in society. The strategy recognises the multitude of disadvantages and challenges disabled people face, demonstrates a clear commitment to improve the lives and longitudinal outcomes for disabled people and highlights the importance of breaking down silos and working in partnership to achieve cross-departmental objectives.
The NDS sets out numerous action plans where Shaw Trust has proposed recommendations. This is encouraging given the work of the Policy Institute, our internal ‘think and do’ tank who advocate policy solutions for the communities we serve, including disabled people, and demonstrates our impact as an organisation. These recommendations include strengthening the Disability Confident Scheme, improving the co-design of policies with disabled people and their families, and improved employer awareness of reasonable adjustment duties, all of which have been integrated, which demonstrate our influence in shaping policies which improve the lives of those we work to support.
Shaw Trust’s ‘child to career’ approach, our charitable mission, and commitments to our three levels of social value aim to target the issues at the heart of inequalities by joining-up and layering service provision. We recognise that access to good employment and other positive life outcomes, including a reduction in poverty, for disabled people is critically dependent on receiving consistent wrap-around support throughout their lives, including early action to layer services for continuity of provision that relies on government departments’ effective collaboration. For instance, joining up education, learning and skills, and employability support for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) would help to bridge the gaps and reduce the sudden changes in the provision of support between education and employment disabled young people often encounter.
Disabled people fundamentally deserve transformative change in their support services. We applaud the National Disability Strategy for attempting an ambitious cross-governmental, joined-up approach, and strongly encourage the government to heed our recommendations.
Read the National Disability Strategy