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Disability Action Plan

Volume 734: debated on Monday 19 June 2023

We are planning to consult on the disability action plan this summer. The consultation will be published in accessible formats, and we will publish the final plan once we have fully considered the consultation responses.

The Conservatives have consistently failed disabled people throughout the past 13 years. They promised a national disability strategy, which was ruled unlawful, and now they have promised a disability action plan. The European Accessibility Act will improve access to digital products and services, and reduce barriers to accessing transport, education and the labour market for disabled people throughout Europe. When do the Government plan to consult and publish their action plan, and will they follow the lead of our friends in the European Union by removing those accessibility barriers?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for the opportunity to set out our ongoing commitment to have this disability action plan, and I am disappointed by the tone that she takes on that. There is a real opportunity for the House and our country to come together in welcoming this, and to shape it, get it right, and ensure that it addresses many of the issues that disabled people tell us are important, with the right answers to those questions. I hope she will engage with that in such a spirit.

On a recent visit to the Waitrose Belgravia branch, the Minister and I saw how the Government’s Access to Work programme is working, with the branch employing five deaf people. Does he agree that Waitrose is showing the way, and that other retailers can embrace the Access to Work programme, not just for their businesses but for disabled people across the country?

I am hugely appreciative that my hon. Friend extended that invitation for me to come along and visit the Belgravia Waitrose branch. It was incredibly inspiring to see that dedicated team, who are part of the wider customer service family within that business, achieving so much and providing brilliant service to their customers. It demonstrates that not only is it right for businesses to engage in disability employment, but it has had a great impact on those employees and on the community as a whole. That demonstrates what can be achieved with the right Government support, working with businesses to increase those opportunities and support people.

Let us be absolutely clear: the 2019 Conservative manifesto promised a radical strategy for disabled people before the end of 2020. It finally emerged in summer 2021 but was found to be illegal. It was quietly replaced by the disability action plan in December 2022, but six months on we still have very few details. We do not know whether it will be co-produced, and ultimately it is unlikely to result in any changes before the next election. How many years does the Conservative party need to take meaningful action? I will tell the Minister who is disappointed: disabled people after 13 years of this Conservative Government.

We might need an Adjournment debate to correct the number of inaccuracies entailed within the hon. Lady’s question. This Government are committed to a disability action plan that I am confident will respond to the many issues that are raised with us by disabled people. We will have full consultation on those plans to ensure we get it right, and that will of course involve disabled people. This is an opportunity to get on and deliver in those areas over the next 12 to 18 months. I think that is a good thing that we should all be able to welcome.