Govt promises more choice and control for disabled people

Govt launches independent living strategy
Govt launches independent living strategy

The government has unveiled its new strategy designed to offer disabled people more choice and control over their lives.

Ministers claim the cross-government strategy, which draws on resources from six departments, will enable disabled people to do things non-disabled people take for granted.

In Independent Living Strategy, published today by the Office for Disabled Issues, aims to improve access to services including transport, healthcare, housing and health.

It gives priority to boosting organisations run by disabled people as part of a commitment to user-led services.

Gordon Brown said it was part of the government's commitment to a "vision of equality for all" disabled people by 2025.

The prime minister said: "This strategy sets out how we will make progress towards achieving that goal.

"Transferring power to those needing support and joining up services to ensure this happens, changes the way in which support and services are delivered and experienced.

"It unlocks opportunities, enables people to participate and contribute, and strengthens our communities."

It includes regional plans to help older people with high level needs live independent and a national strategy to help disabled people remain in employment.

A best practice guide has also been published to ensure choice and control over continuing health care.

Welcoming the strategy, work and pensions secretary James Purnell said: "Disabled people should have the same choice and control over how they live their lives as everyone else.

"The strategy is unique as it was developed in partnership with disabled people from the outset, to ensure it reflects their real life experiences and has drawn on their expertise to identify how to address the barriers they face.

"I welcome it as it moves beyond the usual practice of consulting people on policy proposals, to involving disabled people right from the start. It is also a powerful illustration of cross government working."

Help the Aged said the strategy marked a "really positive step forward".

Mervyn Kohler, special advisor to Help the Aged, added. "However, this needs to extend beyond transport, health and social care - essentially services given to people - to include things like further education and active engagement within the local community, services provided for people."

But Help the Aged cautioned that independent living would not be right for everyone.

"The government must work to ensure the development of lifetime neighbourhoods which deliver active and safe communities for people with varying degrees of independence, and with which they can become engaged," Mr Kohler added.


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