12 January, 2024

ParalympicsGB and sporting community urge UK Government to reconsider decision to scrap dedicated Minister of State for Disabled People

ParalympicsGB and its partners across the UK’s sport and activity community have urged the UK Government to reconsider its decision to remove the role of a dedicated minister of state for disabled people in an open letter to the Prime Minister published on 11 January.

2024 will see Paris host the Paralympic Games from 28 August to 8 September; which will shine a spotlight on sport and disability and promote inclusion.

In December 2023 the UK Government announced that the role of a dedicated minister for disabled people would be merged with a junior ministerial role in the Department for Work and Pensions.

57 organisations from across the sport and activity sector have come together to express their concern at the government’s decision which gives the message that 24 per cent of the population (16 million people) are not a Government priority.

Recognising that sport is a powerful platform for driving positive social change, ParalympicsGB and its partners have called for the national pride we have in Paralympic sport to be reflected in the Government’s priorities.

ParalympicsGB Chief Executive, David Clarke, said: “As we enter this Paralympic year, the government has a unique opportunity to deliver on promises within their disability and sport strategies. There is the chance to shine a spotlight on disability sport to help promote equal opportunities for disabled people across our society.

“The lack of a senior role within Government sends the message to the 16 million disabled people in this country that they do not have a voice at the top level of government. It is so important that disabled people are valued for the important role that they play across our society.

“That is why we and our partners from across the system are urging the government to reverse its decision and ensure that there is representation at the very top so we can work towards achieving equality for disabled people in this country.”

British Wheelchair Basketball Chief Executive, who has supported the BPA on this call for change, added: “I am terribly disappointed in the UK government’s decision to no longer have a minister for disabled people.

“With this one decision, the government have stated that 24 per cent of the population are not a priority and do not need to have their voices heard. Furthermore, absorbing the role into a junior DWP position demonstrates that people with a disability are simply viewed as benefit claimants rather than being valued for the important role that they play across our society.

“We have a major problem in this country around attitudes to disability and decisions like this only compound the issue. We need to change the narrative so that nearly a quarter of the people in our country are valued, recognised, and heard.  Only by ensuring that we have representation for disabled people within our government will this change.”

Read the letter here: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/mdocs-posts/david-clarke-letter-to-pm-11-jan-24/

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