To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the National Disability Strategy published on 28 July 2021, which of his Department’s commitments in that strategy that have not been paused as a result of legal action have (a) been fully, (b) been partially and (c) not been implemented.
In January 2022, the High Court declared the National Disability Strategy (NDS) was unlawful because the UK Disability Survey, which informed it, was held to be a voluntary consultation that failed to comply with the legal requirements on public consultations
1. By September 2021, the MOD will publish a plan to bring more disabled people into the civilian workforce to meet its target of 15.3% by 2030
2. MOD will explore how to increase opportunities for disabled people to serve as part of the Armed Forces reserves by the end of 2023, including:
- promoting better use of disabled reservists for appropriate roles across the Armed Forces
- guaranteeing interviews for disabled reservists who meet the minimum requirements when recruiting for those roles
3. By 2025, MOD will deliver the Armed Forces Recruiting Programme to recruit more diverse military personnel, including disabled people
4. We will experiment with the recruitment of more diverse military personnel into the new National Cyber Force, using it as a pathfinder for increased inclusivity
5. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will share best practice and insight from the veterans’ adaptive sport community with disability organisations and providers of sport and activity by March 2022
Commitment 1, to publish a plan to bring more disabled people into the civilian workforce has been partly implemented. A plan is in development and a number of relevant activities have so far been identified and are progressing. We continue to monitor the effects of the actions, which will make Defence a more attractive, diverse and inclusive employer.
Commitment 2, to explore how to increase opportunities for disabled people to join Defence, has not been implemented. Defence wishes to minimise the risk of acting inconsistently with the Court’s declaration, without compromising on the ambitious agenda we are delivering for disabled people. As such, we are disappointed to have had to pause the work on guaranteed interviews for disabled reservists. However, this does not prevent disabled people who meet the minimum requirements from applying to be a reservist. Our intent remains to contribute to the wider commitment of creating more opportunities for disabled people to participate and thrive across the whole Force, not just as reservists; to protect and promote the rights of disabled people; and to tackle the barriers that prevent disabled people from fully benefiting from, and contributing fully to, every aspect of our society.
Commitment 3, to deliver the Armed Forces Recruiting Programme (AFRP) to recruit more diverse military personnel, is in the process of being implemented. The AFRP is responsible for the delivery of a new single, tri-Service, Armed Forces Recruiting Service (AFRS). A key requirement of the future solution is placing candidates at the heart of the Armed Forces recruiting experience, keeping them inspired and motivated whilst recruiting from the broadest spectrum of society to improve diversity and representation. A key tenet of the Programme is to establish an agile and flexible approach to meet the demand of the Armed Forces across roles and people requirements. The Armed Forces demand requirement is updated annually and will be delivered through the supplier and the AFRS working collaboratively. It will be fully implemented in 2027.
Commitment 4, to use the National Cyber Force as a pathfinder for inclusivity, has been fully implemented. In 2021, the MOD announced a Cyber Pathfinder Scheme to increase inclusion in Defence. This is now open and trains and assesses military personnel joining the National Cyber Force.
Commitment 5, to share best practice and insight from the veterans’ adaptive sport community with disability organisations and providers of sport and activity, was fully implemented in March 2022.
We remain fully committed to supporting disabled people in the UK through creating more opportunities, protecting their rights, and ensuring they fully benefit from, and can contribute to, every aspect of our society. To support this, the MOD will be providing further details of our recent achievements to improve disabled people’s lives in the forthcoming Disability Action Plan consultation due for publication in the summer.