My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Anne McGuire), has made the following Statement.
In 2005 the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit published its report Improving the life chances of disabled people. One of its key recommendations was that the Government should set up a new mechanism to involve disabled people in the heart of policy-making. In order to explore this recommendation my officials have been working with an advisory group of 13 disabled people to work with my officials to develop recommendations for this body. The advisory group will produce its final report later this year. In the mean time, it has identified that there is a need for a new body to:
work with the Government to help them achieve the aim of equality for disabled people by 2025;
provide advice and information from disabled people based upon the values underpinning the work of the forum and the views and experiences of disabled people;
advise government departments on how they can engage effectively and meaningfully with disabled people;
assist the Government in raising awareness of disabled people and their rights, improving attitudes towards them and challenging negative stereotypes in the media and the wider community;
help ensure that public bodies are meeting their legal duties under the Disability Discrimination Act in relation to the disability equality duty;
advise the Government on the implementationand maintenance of international treaties and conventions within the UK.
After considering the recommendations of the advisory group, I have decided to create an advisory non-departmental public body, to be known as Equality 2025: the United Kingdom Advisory Network on Disability Equality, to fulfil this role. It will not replace existing departmental arrangements for involving disabled people in policy-making, but supplement them.
Equality 2025 will have 20 to 25 members, who will all be disabled people. Members of Equality 2025 will be recruited in accordance with the standards set by the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments, and advertisements will appear in both general-interest media and the disability press from later this week.
I expect Equality 2025 to be launched later this year.