What is most disappointing about the current situation is the absolute paucity of ambition policy thinking has demonstrated over the last few years. The austerity agenda has largely shackled the debate, limiting the discourse to one in which disabled people largely feature as recipients of welfare, health and care and a cost to the economy. Such a reductive debate, which for the government has been about savings, and for the opposition one of damage limitation, diverts policy thinking away from what kind of society 21st century Britain should be.  

We would like to see the UK become a society in which disabled people don’t just receive “care, support, access services and find work,” but rather, thrive, flourish and prosper. 

In other words, a facilitative society that equips disabled people with the tools and resources to pursue opportunity; which provides the legal environment that underpins an expectation of equal treatment; and configures services and infrastructure to remove barriers to their contributing to society and the economy.

Sadly, according to the Equality and Human rights Commission’s recently published report “Being disabled in Britain,” disabled people find themselves living in a society that has left them behind. The report reveals a story of disabled people continuing to be “denied the opportunities and outcomes non-disabled people take for granted.”  Whether it is educational and employment opportunities, access to transport, health services and housing, equal pay, access to justice or living standards, disabled people are still not being treated as equal citizens.  David Isaacs (EHRC Chair) describes the report as a “call to arms.” It’s probably naive to hope that Isaacs’ call will be fully heeded in any of the forthcoming election manifestos, but for disabled voters, the test will surely be the extent to which Parties present a vision for a Britain which holds disabled people at its heart, not at the margins.

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