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DISABILITY WATCHDOG TO ENSURE COUNCILS TOE THE LINE

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A new disability body will help ensure that public bodies are meeting their legal duties under the Disability Discr...
A new disability body will help ensure that public bodies are meeting their legal duties under the Disability Discrimination Act in relation to the Disability Equality Duty.

Advertisements are appearing this week to recruit members to a new disability advisory network, which will advise government on how to achieve disability equality by 2025.

The new body, called 'Equality 2025 - the UK Advisory Network on Disability Equality', will be formed of 20-25 disabled people and will make sure that government talks to disabled people who are currently without a political voice or who are most marginalised.

Anne McGuire, Minister for Disabled People, announced the creation of the new body today in Parliament, setting out its aims, which are to:

* work with the government to help it achieve the aim of equality for disabled people by 2025.

* provide advice and information from disabled people based upon the values underpinning the work of the forum and the views and experiences of disabled people.

* advise government departments on how they can engage effectively and meaningfully with disabled people.

* assist the government in raising awareness of disabled people and their rights, improving attitudes towards them and challenging negative stereotypes in the media and the wider community.

* help ensure that public bodies are meeting their legal duties under the DDA in relation to the Disability Equality Duty.

* advise government on the implementation and maintenance of international treaties and conventions within the UK.

Equality 2025 will give government a focus for dialogue with disabled people but will not replace the duty of government to talk directly with disabled people and disability organisations about issues which have an impact on disabled people's lives.

The new body will have arrangements to enable disabled children and young people to participate in the network.

Ms McGuire said:

'A national forum for disabled people demonstrates the government's commitment to engaging directly in meaningful dialogue with disabled people. By consulting with disabled people at an early stage of policy development and service design, Government will be better able to meet disabled people's needs.'

Equality 2025 will be guided by 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People', the prime minister's Strategy Unit report.

Notes

1. For more information about the recruitment advertisements, contact the team at Equality 2025 on 0870 609 4218, Textphone 0870 609 4219, or email equality2025@capita.co.uk

2. The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit published their report 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People' in January 2005. The report sets out the Government's vision for disabled people: 'By 2025, disabled people in Britain should have full opportunities and choices to improve their quality of life and will be respected and included as equal members of society'. It includes some sixty recommendations for improving disabled people's lives.

3. A key recommendation of the Life Chances report was the establishment of a 'national forum of organisations for disabled people' to create an effective channel of communication between disabled people and government.

4. An Advisory Group of 13 disabled people is advising Ministers about the role, remit and design of the new body. They will publish a report with recommendations in September 2006.

5. Ministers have so far agreed recommendations on the name, values, purpose, the legal status, structure and composition of the Network.

6. Equality 2025 will be an advisory Non-Departmental Public Body with between 20 and 25 members. Secretariat support will be provided by the Office for Disability Issues.

7. The Minister for Disabled People hopes to appoint the members by end of November and to launch Equality 2025 by the end of this year.

8. Recruitment to Equality 2025 will start during the week commencing 10 July. The posts are public appointments and recruitment will follow standards of the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments.

9. Capita Resources is handling the recruitment for the Office for Disability Issues. The closing date for applications is Friday 8 September 5pm.

10. The Office for Disability Issues was launched on 1 December 2005 and provides a cross-government focus on disability issues. It is directed by a Ministerial steering group composed of representatives from six key departments: Department for Education and Skills, Department of Health, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport, Department of Trade & Industry and the Department for Work and Pensions. Its website is www.officefordisability.gov.uk

11. A full copy of the 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People' report is on the Strategy Unit's website:

http:www.strategy.gov.uk/work_areas/disability/

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