Change is needed “right at the top” to help increase representation of people with disabilities in politics, Ministers have been told by Dr Lisa Cameron MP for East Kilbride Strathaven and Lesmahagow.
The MP led a debate this week marking United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the House of Commons, an annual day that seeks to promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities at every level of society.
Dr Cameron MP, Chair of Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Disability, said ongoing inequality is compounded by the fact that people with disabilities face structural inequality and have “largely felt invisible” during the pandemic.
There are 14.1 million people with disabilities in the UK. The office of National Statistics estimated that disabled people made up a staggering 59% of all coronavirus deaths during the peak of the pandemic and recent research by Sense shows that almost three quarters of disabled people surveyed believed their needs had been ignored and they have not received enough support during the pandemic.
This years theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Leadership and Participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-Covid19 world.
In line with this Dr Cameron MP reported that the All Party Group for Disability have increased employment, work experience and internship opportunities for people with disabilities in the UK to work in parliament via signing up over 100 MPs to become Disability Confident Level 1 Employers. She called on Government to do more to include the participation of disabled people at the heart of Government policy making and within the Covid19 Inquiry.
“It was a privilege to lead the debate on United Nations International Day of Person’s with Disabilities in the House of Commons and to raise issues of ongoing inequality in education, employment, health and care. Parliament and MPs must lead the way in championing inclusion and equality of opportunity for all and that is why I am so proud to be spearheading Inclusive Employment Workshops that are offering real life opportunities for now in over 100 MPs offices up and down the UK”
Minister for Disabled People Chloe Smith MP responded stating
“Excellent points were made. I am determined to make further headway in reducing the employment gap for disabled people, building on the progress already made. Too many people who can and want to work do not have the opportunity to do so, so the Government are looking at concrete action to help disabled people into good jobs and to progress, with a commitment to continue to break down barriers and improve support”.