ParalympicsGB and partners across the UK sport and activities community have urged the UK Government to reconsider its decision to abolish the role of the Secretary of State for disabled people in an open letter to the Prime Minister published today.
2024 will see Paris host the Paralympics from August 28 to September 8; Which will highlight sport, disability and promote inclusion.
In December 2023, the UK Government announced that the role of dedicated minister for people with disabilities would be combined with a junior ministerial role at the Department for Work and Pensions.
57 organizations from across the sport and activities sector came together to express their concern about the government's decision which sends the message that 24 per cent of the population (16 million people) are not a government priority.
Recognizing that sport is a powerful platform for driving positive social change, the British Paralympic Committee and its partners have called for the national pride we have in Paralympic sport to be reflected in government priorities.
David Clarke, Chief Executive of British Paralympics, said: “As we enter this Paralympic year, the Government has a unique opportunity to deliver on its promises within its disability and sport strategies. There is an opportunity to highlight disability sports to help promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in our community.
“The lack of a senior-level role within government sends a message to the 16 million people with disabilities in this country that they do not have a voice at the top level of government. It is very important that people with disabilities are recognized for the important role they play in our society.
“That is why we and our partners from across the system are urging the government to reverse its decision and ensure there is representation at the top so we can work towards equality for people with disabilities in this country.”
Justine Baines, CEO of Wheelchair Basketball UK, added: “I am extremely disappointed by the UK Government’s decision not to appoint a Minister for Disabled People.
“With this single decision, the government has stated that 24% of the population are not a priority and do not need to have their voices heard. Furthermore, absorbing the role into a junior position at the DWP demonstrates that people with disabilities are simply viewed as being entitled to benefits rather than being valued.” The important role they play in our society.
“We have a huge problem in this country with attitudes towards disability and decisions like this only exacerbate the problem. We need to change the narrative so that nearly a quarter of the people in our country are valued, acknowledged and heard. This will only change by ensuring representation People with disabilities within our government.
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