Charities and campaigners, including Epilepsy Action, have criticised the government’s Disability Action Plan as it lacks focus on cost of living, employment and social care support.
The UK government announced the Disability Action Plan this week, which it said “sets out the immediate actions the government will take in 2024 to improve disabled people’s everyday lives and lay the foundations for longer-term change”.
The plan builds on the National Disability Strategy, which was launched in July 2021.
A draft action plan was announced in July 2023. Epilepsy Action was among the charities invited to take part in the consultation.
Epilepsy Action’s senior policy and campaigns officer Daniel Jennings said: “The Disability Action Plan lacks focus on cost of living, employment and social care support. The government’s actions are vague and lack any specific time frames and clear outcomes.
“Epilepsy Action has highlighted the impact that the cost-of-living crisis has had on people with epilepsy which were evidenced by the results of a survey of people with epilepsy.
“It is therefore disappointing that despite this, and the fact that other charities evidently highlighted the impact on disabled people, there is only one action related to the cost-of-living crisis in the plan.”
The plan proposes 32 actions, across 14 different areas. These include:
- Supporting disabled people who want to be elected to public office
- Helping businesses understand the needs of and deliver improvements for disabled people
- Improving understanding of the cost of living for disabled people
- Research issues facing disabled people in the future.
The plan also includes proposals to support people who have guide dogs, exploring if the UK could host the Special Olympics World Summer Games and making government publications and communications more accessible.
According to the paper, 1 in 5 people in the UK are disabled. Epilepsy is included among these disabilities, but there are no specific proposals for supporting people with epilepsy.
Minister for disabled people, health and work, Mims Davies said: “We know that disabled people face barriers across many areas of their lives. It is therefore vital that we continue to take concerted action across the government to improve disabled people’s lives and ensure disabled people can participate fully in society.”
She added: “Over the course of the consultation, more than 1,300 people shared their thoughts with us. I’m immensely grateful to every single person who took the time to respond to the consultation, whether by answering the questions online or sending in their thoughts by email, phone or post. We are publishing an independent analysis of those responses today alongside this plan.
“I would also like to thank all of those who gave their time to attend one or more of the many events we held throughout the consultation period, and to share their invaluable insights.
“Every response – every comment, thought and suggestion – has helped us to shape and strengthen the final Disability Action Plan so that it can achieve the greatest possible impact.”