CAROLINE ANSELL MP: We need to step up to help disabled people

For obvious reasons, during the pandemic, good work carried out by the Government has been missed by the media.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 12:36 pm

One such announcement was the National Disability Strategy unveiled late last month.

This comprehensive document was developed with the input of more than 14,000 disabled people, as well as disability organisations, businesses, policy experts and many others.

It sets out the Government’s vision to improve the everyday lives of disabled people so that disability is not a barrier to people living full, independent lives and they can reach their full potential.

The strategy came in three parts, and I do not have space to go into the details, but it spells out practical steps that need to take place right now and longer-term ambitions to improve disabled people’s lives.

It shows we need to step up.

Only around 52 per cent of disabled people are in work.

The strategy found that just eight per cent of disabled people, eight per cent of carers and 12 per cent of the general public ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that the views held by members of the public about disability are generally helpful for disabled people.

Here in Eastbourne some of the challenges were spelt out to me during a recent online roundtable discussion with local groups and the disability minister Justin Tomlinson.

We also have practical challenges to improve services for disabled people when major attractions include a beach and downland.

The Government aims to have one million more disabled people in employment by 2027 but they are over a third less likely to be employed than non-disabled people.

If we are to see better opportunities for all and a fairer society then this very poor 52 per cent figure needs to rise dramatically. The employment rate for people who are not disabled is 81 per cent.

I know that disabled people, those with mental health problems, those with learning disabilities, want to work, but the employers are not often there to take them on despite Government support being available.

In addition to this national strategy, we need a joint response here in Eastbourne with disability groups, the chamber of commerce, the job centre and charities to get a plan in place to raise awareness of the support the Government has available for employers and the need for better access.

Watch this space for further developments on this important issue.

Another disability is hearing loss and during a visit to East Sussex Hearing Centre I discovered that one in six in Eastbourne suffer from it.

This is a hidden problem in many ways and people often hesitate to seek help from their GP for a referral. It’s clear we need to raise more awareness.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do to help.