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Great Britain

Boris Johnson asks every Cabinet minister how their department can lower barriers for disabled people

BORIS Johnson wrote to every Cabinet minister asking them to review how their department can help lower barriers that disabled people face in their everyday life.

In a letter seen by The Sun the PM told his top team that they must all contribute ideas to his government’s new National Disability Strategy.

He said disabled people currently face a host of challenges to a wide aspect of their lives that government can change - such as loneliness, unemployment and access to government services.

Each Cabinet minister has been ordered to look at how their department could increase opportunity for disabled people and make sure data and evidence held on the lives of disabled people is up to date.

In an emotionally charged letter to his top ministerial team - the first he’s sent since the election, Mr Johnson wrote: “Despite progress, many disabled people find it hard to access services that others take for granted.

“That isn’t just unfair, it is also a criminal waste of potential that shamefully and quite needlessly constrains the prosperity of our entire nation.”

Mr Johnson wants a more joined-up approach across Whitehall departments to tackle problems faced by disabled people.

Aides pointed to the example of disabled people having to undergo multiple assessments to qualify for benefits, which not only creates extra barriers for them but also causes distress.

'CONSTRAINS OUR NATION'

A beefed-up Disability Unit in the Cabinet Office will coordinate the cross-Whitehall approach and work closely with the No10 policy unit.

The PM will order the Cabinet to deliver their findings within weeks because he wants to publish a government Green Paper setting out a new National Strategy for Disabled People by the summer.

In the letter to the Cabinet the PM says he wants it to be “the most ambitious endeavour on disability in a generation”and deliver the “greatest contribution to the lives of disabled people in our nation”.

The review will come alongside reforms to the benefits system and new measures to close the disability employment gap and an overhaul of special educational needs and disability (SEND).

Mr Johnson said improving the lives of disabled people is a personal mission of his having seen first-hand how attitudes towards disability changed during the 2012 Paralympic Games that he hosted as London Mayor.

He wrote: “As Prime Minister, I am determined to mobilise that spirit to transform the lives of disabled people right across our United Kingdom.

“I want our National Strategy for Disabled People, announced in our manifesto, to be the most ambitious endeavour on disability in a generation.

In order to accomplish this, I am asking all departments to consider how they can make the greatest contribution to the lives of disabled people in our nation.”


The Sun's Give It Back campaign

THE Sun is calling for more help for the one million families with disabled children in England and Wales.

Research shows that the lack of support is putting an enormous strain on parents and siblings.

Just four per cent of parents say they are getting the help they need.

More than half suffer from stress and depression due to a lack of support.

For siblings, the responsibilities of caring at home often results in incomplete homework, late arrival at school and even non-attendance.

Last October, Tory MP Robert Halfon released the findings of an 18-month study into the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system.

The committee found that too many young people with extra educational needs were not getting the right - or sometimes, any - help and families were in crisis.

Mr Halfon said: “Many children with special educational needs and disabilities are being let down day after day.

“Many parents face a titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.”

There is a funding gap of £434 million in social care for families with disabled children.

Together with 60 charities in the Disabled Children’s Partnership, our campaign Give It Back is asking the Government to rectify this in the next budget.

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