Mike Smith: the importance of the Day

Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been one of our Commissioners and Chair of the Disability Committee since 2009. He writes here about the importance of the International Day of Disabled Persons:

This day highlights both the millions of disabled people around the world and the issues they face. Historically, disabled people’s organisations have campaigned to improve policy, legislation, services and attitudes that impact on disabled people’s lives. It is a real opportunity to celebrate these achievements and to reflect on how far disabled people have come.

Employment, skills and benefit reform

Everyone should have the right to work. That’s why commitment is needed in supporting disabled and disadvantaged people into employment and to living more independent lives.

Positive promotion of disabled people in the workplace is essential. The Commission’s Working Better policy initiative demonstrates this. There is also a need to ensure that the welfare system supports ways for people to get into work that are viable and sustainable for employer and employee. By not capping benefits for this group, we can find bespoke solutions and ensure that every person has an opportunity and the support they need to find and keep the right job for them.

How fair is Britain?’ provides statistics and data on disabled people in Britain. But, we need further information gathering on specific impairment/disability issues to provide a stronger evidence base for future policy and planning.

Looking back over the past 12 months, what has the Commission done to tackle some of the challenges faced?

We secure rights for disabled people through our legal team, and we have supported a number of groundbreaking legal cases. We've also worked with others to ensure that the new Equality Act 2010 keeps all of the good provisions of the DDA, and added new protections, such as those relating to pre-employment health questionnaires.

We’re currently working on the Disability Harassment Inquiry (DHI), which is looking at the issues behind and responses to the disproportionate experience by disabled people of crime and antisocial behaviour. Too many people have their lives, and hence opportunities and freedom, blighted by such treatment.

In social care, we continue to promote an approach based on helping people to maximise control over their own lives, to make social and economic contributions and to stay safe and well. We recently launched an Inquiry into how well protected the human rights of older disabled people are when requiring or receiving care and support. We are working with the Care Quality Commission to ensure human rights and equality are at the heart of the way the health and social care sectors are regulated.

We recently published a report on the current labour market position of disabled people and the potential future trends. New Commission priorities and approaches on employment, skills and benefit reform will be applied in response to Government policies.

Last Updated: 02 Dec 2010