Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip
I am pleased to update Members about the work of the Disability Rights Taskforce, which I co-chair with Professor Debbie Foster of Cardiff University. The taskforce is made up of various working groups, which explore the challenges disabled people face and works towards our ambition of a more equal Wales.
The Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru recognises our shared determination to strengthen the rights of disabled people and tackle the inequalities they continue to face. Sian Gwenllian MS has been attending taskforce meetings to hear the progress we are making.
Further to my update in March 2023, the working groups are progressing well and updates on each are below:
The Embedding and Understanding the Social Model of Disability working group, chaired by Professor Debbie Foster, has concluded its meetings. As a result of the work undertaken, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) and Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) have received bespoke training in the Social Model of Disability and will apply this knowledge to inspections of health and social care services.
The Access to Service (including communications and technology) working group, chaired by Dr Natasha Hirst, has concluded its work, and presented its actions and recommendations to the taskforce. A number of integral discussions were held on the reporting on disability in the media, and the influence of words and images.
Working group meetings for the Independent Living: Social Care, chaired by Rhian Davies CEO Disability Wales, have also concluded. The Deputy Minister for Social Services was at the final meeting to hear the recommendations.
The Independent Living: Health working group, chaired by Willow Holloway, has concluded. It has been agreed that additional sessions will be held for further discussions on wellbeing. The Minister for Health and Social Services attended the taskforce meeting in June to listen to the ambitious recommendations. An extension of this group will focus on disabled people’s access to culture, sport and tourism in Wales. It will take a workshop approach in early 2024.
The Travel working group, chaired by Andrea Gordon from Guide Dogs UK, has held five meetings. The Deputy Minister for Climate Change attended a working group meeting to hear from members about how public transport issues affect the lives of disabled people. The final meeting to agree recommendations is scheduled for October.
The Employment and Income working group, chaired by Professor Debbie Foster, has concluded. The recommendations will be presented at the next taskforce meeting in December.
The Children and Young People working group, co-chaired by Angharad Price and Alice Moore, has held two meetings; the second focusing on children’s mental health services. We will ensure that children and young people’s voices are heard, through strong participation arrangements.
The Affordable and Accessible Housing working group will be chaired by Damian Joseph Bridgeman and is due to start in October.
At the June taskforce meeting, members heard presentations about how access to court, hate crime, policing, sexual assault, and domestic violence can affect disabled people. Taskforce members agreed to establish a working group to address access to justice for disabled people. This will be chaired by Joe Powell, CEO of All Wales People First and will start work in November.
I am pleased the Welsh Government’s Employment Disability Champions regularly attend all working groups and will soon provide mentorship to policy leads across government to ensure disabled people are included in policy making and their lived experiences are considered fully.
The taskforce’s work will lead to a co-produced cross-governmental Disability Rights Action Plan, which we will begin drafting in 2024. However, we are already planning actions to remove barriers identified by the taskforce working groups.
The work of the Taskforce is at an exciting stage, and we continue to receive encouraging feedback from stakeholders. We will continue to implement the recommended actions identified by the working groups to transform Wales into a disability inclusive nation.
More information about this work can be found at our Disability Rights Taskforce webpage.