A photo of a disabled blue badge parking space

Outrage as government downgrades ‘minister for disabled people’ role

Disability rights campaigners have reacted to the downgrading of the minister for disabled people role, describing it as “another kick in the teeth”.

Mims Davies, who has served as the MP for Mid Sussex since 2019, has assumed the position, in addition to her existing job as a junior minister overseeing social mobility and youth.

The position had been vacant since Tom Pursglove left the role following Robert Jenrick resignation as immigration minister due to the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

James Taylor, executive director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said: “Disabled people have been waiting a week for an announcement on who will have responsibility for disability in government.

“And now we’re seeing a downgrading of the role.

“We’d urge the government to reinstate the dedicated Minister of State position, to reflect the need for the UK’s 16 million disabled people to be treated as a priority.

“We need full-time leadership of disability strategy in government, to make sure policy doesn’t leave disabled people disadvantaged.”

A picture of Mims Davies who has been newly appointed in the downgraded role of minister of disabled people.
NEWLY APPOINTED: Mims Davies MP is appointed representative for disabled people in Government.

Davies, who announced her new appointment on X, formerly Twitter, posted: “Honoured to confirm my appointment as the representative for disabled people in Government.

“I’ll work as hard as I can to ensure disabled people’s voices are heard loud and clear.”

A spokesperson from No 10 refuted claims that Rishi Sunak’s mini-shuffle change was a downgrading of the role and when questioned about the position not being dedicated to disability issues stated that the government will continue to demonstrate strong support for disabled individuals and issues.

Charities argue that this decision will disproportionately affect those already grappling with a cost-of-living crisis during the winter.

Hollie-Anne Brooks, journalist and disability rights campaigner said: “The confusion over the role of Minister For Disabled People has been yet another kick in the teeth for our community. 

“Sadly, appointing Mims Davies as an under-secretary role thus demoting the ministerial role just isn’t good enough, not least when it was initially announced the job was being scrapped altogether. 

“24% of the population are disabled.

“Daily we face a myriad of challenges from care needs to stigma so we need a strong minister to help fight our cause. 

“We need, more than ever, everyone to speak up for disabled people.”

A government spokesperson said Davies would build upon what the government’s track record of supporting disabled people.

They said: “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.

“What you will continue to see is a government showing strong support for disabled people and for disabled issues.”

Featured image credit: AbsolutVision on Unsplash

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