Thank you for the CPF’s Paper 5/2018: Disability & Inclusion, and for helping organise the roundtable with members to further discuss the paper.
Both the paper and the roundtable provided interesting insights and I would like to thank everyone that contributed for the thought-provoking ideas that have arisen through CPF’s work.
In the week following the roundtable, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions outlined the Government’s desire to change the landscape for disabled people and to make sure we close the gap between policy intention and experience. The Secretary of State also stressed that we need a more joined up approach to disability and that is why CPF’s Paper is particularly apposite. I have enclosed a copy of the Secretary of State’s speech. Many of the areas discussed at the roundtable are mentioned in the speech.
On behalf of Gavin Barwell, Chief of Staff, and James Marshall, Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, I am very pleased to enclose formal feedback to a number of issues that the CPF have raised.
Paper 5/2018 – Disability & Inclusion
Section 1: We absolutely agree that it is vital that we create an inclusive built environment allowing disabled people to live more independently with greater choice and control over their lives. Currently there is a wide variation in accessibility target percentages set for M4(2) and M4(3) between different planning authorities. The Greater London Authority has a target where 10% of new build dwellings must meet M4(3) with the remainder meeting M4(2). Other local authorities also have targets and in 2018 MHCLG stressed that they expected planning policy to be informed by accessible standards. We think this area is ripe for further policy work and I have asked Jean-Andre Prager (the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Welfare and Disability) to investigate the viability of a national target for accessible housing.
Section 2: The CPF paper mentions the importance of educating transport staff about accessibility. We agree this is important. In the Inclusive Transport Strategy, which we published last year, we set out ways to improve awareness and enforcement of passenger rights; training of transport staff and ensuring disabled people are involved in the development of the training. The strategy also sets out ways to improve travel information about journeys and assistance both before and during the journey for disabled people. We will continue to make sure that the strategy is implemented. We welcome your views on Motability and we will work with the Department for Work and Pensions to make sure that the scheme is focused on delivering better value and improved outcomes for disabled people.
Section 3: Better integration of health and care is a PM priority, which is reflected in the NHS Long Term Plan, and we recognise the importance of training for healthcare professionals in the care of people with disabilities, including mental health and learning difficulties. The NHS Long-Term Plan commits to this training and we will ask Richard Sloggett (the Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Health) to ensure that this work is driven forward. In the paper, you also mentioned that we should be recording PIP assessments. A live testing pilot began in November 2018. The pilot appears to have been successful, and we will make sure we reflect CPF’s views as DWP are looking at the possibility of doing a full roll out later this year.
Section 4: Over the past five years, the number of people with disabilities in employment has risen by almost one million. This is a tremendous success story for this Government. We want to go even further and we will be reviewing our goal to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027. We intend to make it more ambitious. CPF’s papers also mentions a number of areas where we are taking action. In November last year a new framework was launched to encourage businesses to report, how many of their staff have a disability or health condition. We announced that by summer 2019 Government departments will be required in their procurements to consider social values including the increased representation of disabled people in the workforce. We have made clear our intention to consult shortly on improving access to occupational health.
We also agree with CPF that training opportunities are important for disabled people. We believe this could benefit, in particular, young disabled people and will work with the Department for Work and Pensions over the next few months to identify specific ways our employment support offer can provide better support.
Section 5: We thought this section has some particularly good ideas and have already had discussions with CCHQ on CPF’s proposals. CCHQ are interested in the ‘Enabled2Win’ proposal, and the Chairman’s office will look into how this would be established/operate, working closely with the Vice Chairman for Candidates to work on how this might be delivered. The Party will also explore producing guidance for Associations on how best to engage with candidates and voters who may have a disability, including information on producing electoral materials in accessible formats. Jean-Andre Prager will actively liaise with CCHQ to ensure this work is progressing.
The Party will also consider the other points raised as part of this CPF paper, but some of these are longer-term projects with wider logistical and financial implications for the Party. The Conservative Party Foundation has set up a new bursary fund of £250,000 to support Conservative Party candidates in target seats. The fund is intended to support those who need additional financial help (i.e. travel costs) and covers disabilities – it has already started to support its first potential candidate. Jean-Andre Prager sits on the bursary panel.
Section 6: We absolutely agree that promoting greater understanding of all types of disabilities is vitally important and we should do all we can to make sure that society does not miss out on the invaluable contribution disabled people make. Recently, Lord Holmes published a review to look at how to open up public appointments to disabled people. We agree it is important that disabled people play a leadership role in society and the Government will respond to this review in the coming months.
Section 7: This section raised a number of different policy suggestions. We agree with the suggestion that a cross-governmental approach is necessary to tackle the barriers that disabled people face across a wide range of aspects of their lives. The Prime Minister is committed to this agenda. The Policy Unit will work with the Cabinet Office to help ensure a joined up approach to disability policy.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions set out a number of tangible measures in her recent speech to improve assessments. This included an intention to transform the delivery of assessment services for PIP and WCA. We are building a single digital system and this will simplify the assessment process. We will continue to make sure this work progresses.
I want to reiterate my thanks for the Paper and the range of ideas discussed at the roundtable. I believe there is considerable scope to continue to improve the lives of disabled people in the United Kingdom and I would be delighted to keep you and Conservative members up to date with the progress we are making in this area over the coming months.
Dr James Kent Deputy Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit Special Adviser on Health and Social Care
George Freeman MP, CPF Chairman
Chris Philp MP, Vice Chairman for Policy of the Conservative Party
Rt Hon Gavin Barwell MP, Chief of Staff, No10
James Marshall, Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, No10
Jean-Andre Prager, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Welfare and Disability
Richard Sloggett, Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
 The published standards for accessibility in new build housing are currently:
M4(1) “visitable” (accessible by a disabled person capable of walking) e.g. level access
M4(2) “accessible” (readily usable by wheelchair users at completion) and “adaptable” (easily adapted), primarily focused on increasing dimensions of doors and rooms
M4(3) - wheelchair user dwellings.
Planning regulations state that M4(1) is obligatory but M4(2) and M4(3) are optional https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/540330/BR_PDF_AD_M1_2015_with_2016_amendments_V3.pdf