In January 2022, the High Court declared the national disability strategy unlawful. We have been granted permission to appeal this declaration, but to ensure compliance with the Court’s declaration we are obliged to pause a number of the policies referred to in the strategy or are directly connected with it.
Research from Scope shows that life costs more for people who are disabled, and 91% of those surveyed are worried about energy bills this winter. As this weekend marks the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, would the Minister work with his cross-departmental colleagues to revise the eligibility criteria for the warm home discount to reinstate eligibility for the 300,000 disabled welfare claimants?
I am very grateful to the hon. Member for his question. It is fair to say that this is a Government who have consistently been supporting people during the significant cost of living challenges that they face. Of course, we have the energy price guarantee, which is a significant part of that package, but I am sure that Ministers in Departments across Government would be very happy to engage with him on the particular point he raises about the warm home discount.
We know that a key challenge for many young people with disabilities is getting assessments and getting them funded, so that they and their parents can find out what disabilities they have. I have a constituent who has been told they must wait up to 18 months for an assessment to find out whether they have autism to be completed. Is there an opportunity in the national disability strategy to better enable and fund the accessibility—and accelerate the completion—of those assessments, which can make a life-changing difference to individuals?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this important point. The autism strategy is in place, having had a refresh launched in July 2021 and £74 million of funding in the first year. With the first year having concluded, we will publish our second implementation plan to make further progress on delivering the actions in the strategy. As part of the deliberations on that, we will consider the interesting point that he raises.