While the Government scrambles to throw the kitchen sink at the ‘small boats’ issue by appointing two new migration ministers and putting more resources into its almost certainly doomed Rwanda scheme, it has also come up with the ultimate austerity measure – combining the position of Minister for Disabled People with other roles.

By Tom Jamison

Rather like referring to black, as white, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “What you will continue to see is a government showing strong support for disabled people and for disabled issues.”

Mims Davies MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions now has a new bracketed subtitle to add to her portfolio: Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work – or, put another way, (some other annoying shizz). Ironically, the previous minister for disabled people, Tom Pursglove, was made minister for legal migration a week ago.

Able Magazine received a terse statement from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) just before 5pm yesterday (Thursday 14 December 2023) reading: “Minister Davies will build upon this government’s track record of supporting disabled people, having delivered millions of cost of living payments and helping over one million more disabled people into work five years earlier than planned. The Minister will help ensure there is always a strong safety net for the most vulnerable in our society, while tearing down barriers so that every disabled person can realise their potential and thrive.”

If you thought the Government might take time to justify, or even recognise their callousness, you were wrong. That’s the statement in its entirety.

While it’s clear that the move speaks for itself, disability charities have branded it “appalling” and “retrograde”.

Disabled people have been hit hardest by cuts to social care and the cost-of-living crisis – and were completely let down by government during the recent coronavirus pandemic.

Labour was quick to condemn the move, with Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Vicky Foxcroft MP, saying: “After 13 years of Tory austerity, pandemic and cost of living crisis, disabled people feel their voices are not being heard and represented in government. This confirms it,” adding: “People with disabilities have felt like an afterthought by this government and that’s all the more clear now, at a time when people are really struggling after 13 years of Tory austerity, the impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.”.

Additionally, as we reach mid-December it really doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see the publication of the Disability Action Plan that had been expected before the end of the year. Instead, we have a government somehow convinced that by using brutal tactics to shovel people into unsuitable jobs, that they can pretend that disability issues don’t really exist. The estimated one in five people in the UK with a disability may feel an urge to express their opposition at the ballot box in 2024.

In the meantime, the message has been received and understood.