Social Justice

Uncertainty over minister for disabled people role sparks backlash: 'What message does this send?'

Campaigners are warning the DWP that it must appoint a minister for disabled people urgently to protect disabled people's rights

dwp

Disabled people's rights are at risk without a minister for disabled people, campaigners are warning. Image: Unsplash

There is currently no minister for disabled people, health and work – and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is under fire for refusing to provide clarity around a replacement.

It is the longest gap without a minister for disabled people in the last three decades. The role has been vacant since Tom Pursglove was appointed minister of state for legal migration and delivery on 7 December.

There have been allegations that Downing Street is planning to scrap the role, but this has not been confirmed by the DWP who said “ministerial announcements will be made in the usual way”.

Change a Big Issue vendor’s life this Christmas by purchasing a Winter Support Kit. You’ll receive four copies of the magazine and create a brighter future for our vendors through Christmas and beyond.

The Big Issue understands that the DWP is planning to appoint a minister for disabled people – but it has refused to officially confirm this. Downing Street told us to speak to the DWP.

The lack of clarity has angered disability campaigners and charities, who warn that the role is critical to protect disabled people.

James Taylor, director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said:  “This is an appalling and retrograde move by the government.

“What kind of message does this give to Britain’s 16 million disabled people? That – in the middle of a cost of living crisis – we are now less important?

“Life costs more if you are disabled. There hasn’t been cost of living payment for disabled people this winter. And negative welfare rhetoric has ramped up this year.  

“We must have a minister for disabled people in government, to be a champion of disabled people and disability, and make sure policy doesn’t leave people behind and disadvantaged.”

Sarah White, head of policy at the disability charity Sense, added: “The minister for disabled people is a vital role in government to ensure disabled people’s interests are represented. At a time where disabled people are in crisis, this role should not be vacant.

“Disabled people have been hit hard by cuts to social care and the cost of living crisis and are battling rising prices that have pushed far too many into debt. If the government is serious about tackling this crisis, an important step is appointing a minister for disabled people to look into the issue urgently, and to make the case for more financial support for disabled people.”

Since publication, the DWP has appointed Mims Davies as the minister for disabled people.

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Scrap two-child benefit cap to end child poverty, Labour told: 'Good intentions are not enough'
Starmer and Phillipson at a school
Child poverty

Scrap two-child benefit cap to end child poverty, Labour told: 'Good intentions are not enough'

Is the cost of living crisis over and will prices in the UK ever come down?
Cost of living crisis

Is the cost of living crisis over and will prices in the UK ever come down?

This pioneering and 'beautiful' idea can help keep young care leavers from falling into homelessness
Care leaver Bayley Tubman with her 'aunties'
Care leavers

This pioneering and 'beautiful' idea can help keep young care leavers from falling into homelessness

Inside the primary school 'food shop' ensuring children don't go hungry over summer break
Food poverty

Inside the primary school 'food shop' ensuring children don't go hungry over summer break

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

The Big Issue

Sign up to get your FREE Doctor Who Archive Special

Celebrate the 14th series with your FREE edition of the Dr Who Special Archives