Matt Smith: Welsh Conservatives call for action to end disability discrimination

Chair of the Assembly Cross Party Group on Disability, Mark Isherwood AM/AC, has called for action to end discrimination against disabled people.

Speaking in the Senedd in the debate on The Equality and Human Rights Commission Wales Annual Review 2018/19, Mr Isherwood said that he regularly hears from disabled people who have been discriminated against, and expressed concern that the Public Sector Equality Duty in Wales continues to be ignored.

He also referred to the findings in the Commission’s Housing and Disabled People: Wales’s hidden crisis report, which found that:

  • ·         There is a significant shortage of accessible homes; disabled people are not getting the support that they need to live independently;
  • ·         There was no target in the Welsh Government's 20,000 affordable housing target by 2021 for accessible homes; only one out of 22 local authorities had set a percentage target for accessible and affordable homes;
  • ·         And only 15 percent of local authorities in Wales said that the information they had about disabled people's housing requirements was “good”.

Mr Isherwood also referred to the Commission’s 2018 Is Wales Fairer? report and the fact the Commission is keen for the Welsh Government to provide actual evidence detailing how it has taken forward its specific recommendations.

He said:

“Highlighting the difficulties experienced by disabled people accessing public transport, it recommended that Transport for Wales should work with Network Rail and rail contractor KeolisAmey to improve accessibility of the existing rail infrastructure across Wales, and that public transport providers and regulators should provide training to ensure all staff have the knowledge and skills to help meet the needs of disabled passengers.”

He added:

“I have previously spoken here in support of a proposed Bill to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons into Welsh law, and called for Welsh Government action to address the failure by public agencies to carry out their duties and responsibilities to disabled people, noting that the Equality Act 2010 requires service providers to think ahead and address barriers that impede disabled people.

“This report notes that the Welsh Government has committed to review the Public Sector Equality Duty in Wales in line with the Commission’s recommendations.”

Mr Isherwood concluded by giving one example of many where this is being ignored, which is where a local education authority had told the parents of a young girl that she should not go to her local primary school because they deemed her wheelchair adaptations too expensive, without consulting them.

Matt Smith is a Welsh Tory who has stood as a Conservative candidate for Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. He was a Policy Analyst at Vote Leave. He writes for ConservativeHomeBrexitCentral and Global Vision UK. You can read more about Welsh politics at www.mattsmith.org.uk/news