HC Deb 16 September 2004 vol 424 cc1736-9WS
Mr. Drew

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the major initiatives since 1997 that the Government has taken to(a) advance the cause of disabled people and (b) highlight disability, especially with regard to overcoming discrimination. [188327]

Maria Eagle

Since 1997, we have introduced a wide range of significant measures that have improved civil rights and opportunities for disabled people, including:

Major initiatives
December 1997 The Government set up the Disability Rights Task Force to consider how best to secure our 1997 Manifesto commitment to look at comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people.
December 1998 Employment provisions of Disability Discrimination Act extended to employers with 15 or more employees (previously 20 or more).
January 1999 All new rail vehicles have to comply with Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998
June 1999 "See the person" information campaign which aimed to challenge negative stereotypical thinking about disability and disabled people, to raise awareness of the DDA requirement (coming into effect from October 1999) on service providers to consider reasonable adjustments to the ways they deliver services.
July 1999 Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 gains Royal Assent.
Major initiatives
October 1999 Further DDA rights of access to goods and services came into force, meaning service providers have to alter a policy, practice or procedure which prevents a disabled person accessing a service, or to provide an auxiliary aid or service, or provide a service by a reasonably alternative marts.
February 2000 Direct Payments were extended to older disabled people.
April 2000 Disability Rights Commission commenced activity.
June 2000 Attendance Allowance and the care component of Disability Living were extended to an estimated 2,000 self-funders in local authority owned/managed residential care homes.
June 2000 The day of discharge from hospital has been treated, for the purpose of payments of Attendance Allowance and the Disability Living Allowance care component, as being a day out of hospital. This is benefiting an estimated 50,000 people per year.
September 2000 Department of Health began to undertake a project to Modernise Hearing Aid Services. In the first 18 months, 20 sites piloted provision of a service which assessed patients' more thoroughly, providing binaural aids where indicated, and digital hearing aids where this provides the best solution to the patient.
October 2000 Government agrees the EU Article 13 Employment Directive to combat discrimination in employment and vocational training on grounds of disability, age, religion/belief, sexual orientation.
October 2000 The "What have you got to offer?" campaign which targeted SME business sect or in particular, and used straightforward examples of the kinds of changes under the DDA, which make services accessible to disabled customers.
December 2000 Public Service Vehicle Regulations 2000 became applicable to all new buses and coaches with more than 22 passengers used on local and scheduled services.
March 2001 Regulations introduced requiring licensed taxi drivers to accept assistance dogs and to carry them free of charge.
March 2001 'Valuing People' was published. This is the first White Paper on learning disability for thirty years.
April 2001 Launch of WORKSTEP programme providing support in jobs for disabled people.
April 2001 The Disability Living Allowance higher rate mobility component was extended to severely disabled three and four year old children who are unable, or virtually unable, to walk. This change provides extra help worth £41.05 a week to the families of over 7,000 severely disabled children.
May 2001 Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) gains Royal Assent. The Act brings within scope of the DDA's discrimination provisions, disabled pupils and students.
June 2001 Introduced statutory minimum requirement for concessionary travel, ensuring that certain groups of disabled people have access to half-fares on local buses.
July 2001 National Extension of New Deal for Disabled People.
August 2001 'Valuing People' Implementation Guidance was published.
December 2001 The Learning Disability Task Force held their first meeting. The Learning Disabilities Taskforce is a team of academic experts, representatives of voluntary organisations, health and a social care professionals, family carers and people with learning difficulties charged with finding ways to turn the ideas in Valuing People, into reality.
December 2001 The Mencap helpline was launched. It is funded by the Department of Health and Mencap. They offer advice on learning disability issues.
January 2002 The "Open to Change" campaign which was aimed at encouraging SMEs to find out more about what reasonable adjustments should be made under the DDA, to ensure their services were available to disabled customers.
February 2002 The Valuing People Support Team became fully operational. The team works to improve services for people with learning disabilities through regional programmes of events, networks and support to groups and partnership boards.
April 2002 The Learning Disability Development Fund (LDDF) was introduced. It provides central support for key aspects of 'Valuing People.'
September 2002 First duties of SENDA came into force in September 2002.
October 2002 The Direct Payments Development Fund (DPDF) was announced, to encourage investment in direct payments support services. This money (£9 million over the next three financial years) is being targeted at national, regional and local voluntary organisations, in partnership with local councils, to enable them to play a significant role in the development and promotion of direct payments.
November 2002 The Wheelchair Collaborative was launched to bring about significant improvements in services. It was developed in partnership with the NHS Modernisation Agency, the Department of Health and the Audit Commission.
December 2002 Department of Health Ministers appointed a multidisciplinary External Reference Group to provide advice on issues which the National Service Framework for Long-Term Conditions should cover. This National service Framework focuses on improving the standard and quality of services for people with neurological conditions and addressing some of the common issues that can promote independence for people with long term conditions, like information and support for families and carers, and access community equipment and wheelchairs.
October 2002 Legislation requiring drivers of regulated buses and coaches to provide reasonable assistance to disabled people.
2001–2003 Produced a series of TV 'fillers' to tackle discrimination by using positive portrayals of disabled people in a range of roles and settings. These have generated millions of pounds worth of coverage.
January 2003 Government announced intention to publish a draft Disability Discrimination Bill.
March 2003 Regulations introduced requiring licensed private hire vehicle operators and drivers to accept assistance dogs and to carry them free of charge.
April 2003 The Disability Discrimination (Blind and Partially Sighted Persons) Regulations 2003 came into force. People who are certified as blind or partially sighted, or registered as blind or partially sighted by a local authority, automatically deemed disabled for DDA purposes.
April 2003 Regulations came into force requiring councils to offer direct payments to people using community care services who can choose to have them.
July 2003 DDA 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 approved by Parliament. These include significant measures that will bring over one million additional employers, and a further seven million jobs, within the scope of the DDA. Measures come into effect in October 2004. They implement disability provisions of the Article 13 Employment Directive.
October 2003 Start of the first three Pathways to Work pilots.
November 2003 Began public consultation on setting an end date for rail vehicle accessibility and for refurbishment of rail vehicles.
November 2003 Laid Regulations to give effect to the Article 13 Directive's requirements as they affect occupational pension schemes for disabled employees. Measures come into effect in October 2004.
December 2003 Draft Disability Discrimination Bill published.
April 2004 Information campaign to tell Small to Medium Sized Enterprises about the changes they need to consider under the new October 2004 duties of the DDA. The campaign used Direct mail, radio, press and email to communicate with businesses.
May 2004 The disabled people and carers section of the new Direct.gov site, provides information of practical, personal relevance to disabled people including information on government services, and steps to find out more about those services.
May 2004 The draft bill underwent a thorough pre-legislative scrutiny process by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament. The Committee published its response to Government on 27 May, containing 75 recommendations.
Major initiatives
July 2004 The Government's response to the Scrutiny Committee's recommendations published. The Bill will further extend disabled people's civil rights in respect of the public sector, transport, premises, private clubs and the definition of disability.

We have also announced future measures to improve and broaden civil rights for disabled people:

Major initiatives
October 2004 Final rights of access to goods and services in DDA come into effect, which mean that service providers have to, where reasonable, remove, alter or avoid physical features which act as barriers to disabled people accessing their services.
September 2005 SEN DA duty to remove or alter physical features in post-16 education sector comes into force.
January 2005 New buses up to 7.5 tonnes and coaches will have improved access for wheelchair users.
January 2015 All buses up to 7.5 tonnes will be fully accessible.
January 2016 All full size single deck buses over 7.5 tonnes will be fully accessible.
January 2017 All double deck buses will be fully accessible.
January 2020 All coaches will be fully accessible.