Equality for Disabled People

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 5th September 2013.

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Photo of Russell Brown Russell Brown Shadow Minister (Defence) 9:30 am, 5th September 2013

What recent progress she has made on promoting equality for disabled people.

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Recent progress includes our cross-Government disability strategy, “Fulfilling Potential—Making it Happen”, which was published on 2 July, and the launch of our two-year Disability Confident campaign on 18 July, engaging employers and giving disabled people more opportunities in business. I am pleased to say that key measures and indicators show reduced inequalities and improvements in key outcomes.

Photo of Russell Brown Russell Brown Shadow Minister (Defence)

In recent years, I have on three occasions stepped in when disabled people were on the receiving end of verbal abuse. Recent polling indicates that 17% of disabled people have had such an experience, and that 7% have been physically abused or attacked. What are the Government doing to tackle disability hate crime?

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise this important issue. The Government are doing a lot to enable people to understand what a disability hate crime is and to make it easier to report. We are doing a lot in this area.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Minister (Equalities)

In July, Ministers said that the London Paralympic games had improved attitudes to disabled people. However, a recent report from Scope says that their legacy hangs in the balance. Some 22% of disabled people say that public attitudes have got worse, and 17% say that they have experienced hostile behaviour, or even been attacked. That is not surprising when Ministers abuse statistics about disabled people and benefits. The Hardest Hit campaign shows that disabled people have been hit nine times as hard as non-disabled people by austerity cuts. Is it not time that the Minister got her Government colleagues into line? Disabled people are equal and valued participants in society. When will the Government start to deliver positive messages about the contribution they make and give them the support they need to participate in society?

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

What I would like to do is paint the correct picture, which the hon. Lady is not doing. I can give her either the latest international statistics, which show that out of 55 countries the UK is leading in all 23 indicators, or the latest national statistics, from 2 July, which show that the gap closed in nine out of 14 headline indicators. In 2005-06 and 2009-10, that was true of only seven categories. I can therefore tell the hon. Lady that, on the very latest statistics from 2 July this year, inequalities have reduced and equalities have increased in education, employment and social inclusion, and we also have lower rates of relative poverty. Please get the facts right.