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What the new Government Means for Disabled People, DPOs, and the VCSE Sector

Photograph of the UK Houses of Parliament

The recent general election has ushered in a new era with Keir Starmer’s Labour government taking office, promising significant changes that could impact Disabled people, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), and the Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector. Here’s a closer look at what this means and the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Promising Appointments and Policy Directions

Labour’s cabinet features several members with charity experience, including Lisa Nandy, who now leads the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport which has oversight of our sector. Nandy’s background in homelessness and children’s charities is promising for the sector, suggesting a government more attuned to the needs of the charitable and VCSE sectors. 

Starmer’s government has pledged to reform the Work Capability Assessment and improve the Access to Work scheme, which are critical issues for Disabled people seeking employment. These commitments have been welcomed, but there is a cautious optimism as previous reforms have often led to cuts rather than genuine improvements. 

Labour’s Manifesto: A Mixed Bag

Labour’s manifesto includes several key commitments that could benefit Disabled people. These include the introduction of disability pay gap reporting and a youth guarantee for training and apprenticeships. However, critics argue that both Labour and the Conservatives have fallen short in their plans for social care, with neither party committing to end social care charging. This remains a significant barrier to independent living for many Disabled people.

Local Successes and Their Implications

Congratulations are in order to local candidates who won seats in our area:

Green Party co-leader and former Bristol City Councillor Carla Denyer won Bristol Central.
West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris won North East Somerset and Hanham for Labour.
Labour MPs Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East), Karin Smyth (South Bristol), Darren Jones (Bristol North West), Damien Egan (Bristol North East), and Claire Hazelgrove (Filton and Bradley Stoke)
South Gloucestershire Council Leader Claire Young won Thornbury and Yate for the Liberal Democrats
Sadik Al-Hassan won North Somerset for Labour.

Their victories highlight a shift towards a more progressive and inclusive political landscape locally, which could bode well for addressing local disability issues.

The Disabled People’s Manifesto and Past Government Failures

As we welcome the new government, it’s crucial to hold them accountable to the principles outlined in the Disabled People’s Manifesto. This manifesto calls for an inclusive, person-centred approach to policy-making that recognises the diverse needs of Disabled people. It’s also important to remember the previous government’s failures with their Disability Action Plan, which fell short of meaningful engagement with Disabled communities and DPOs. We need to hear from key figures such as Liz Kendall, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Louise Haigh, the new Secretary of State for Transport and Wes Streeting, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about how they will enact the demands of this manifesto. 

Challenges Ahead

Despite the optimism, challenges remain. There is a need for substantial investment in social care and a genuine commitment to ending social care charging. Labour’s proposed National Care Service must be developed with clear, actionable plans that ensure independence and dignity for Disabled people.

A new government brings hope for positive changes, but it’s essential for DPOs, the Disabled community, and allies to remain vigilant and proactive. Ensuring that the government’s commitments are translated into meaningful actions will require continued advocacy and engagement. Let’s build on this momentum to create a more inclusive society for all.

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