Tuesday, May 13, 2008
"The Independent Living Strategy is unique in its vision to make a real impact on people's lives, working closely with disabled people and across Government. We believe that every single disabled person should be able to choose how they live their lives.
"This Government is committed to enabling independent living, and at DfT we have taken significant steps towards this aim. From our work to make trains and buses more wheelchair accessible, to the development of an England-wide bus pass we have shown our dedication to improving public transport for disabled people."
The Government's Independent Living Strategy sets out over 50 commitments covering all aspects of disabled people's lives, from housing, employment and health to transport and social care. It also focuses on important turning points in people's lives, for example the transition to adulthood for young people, the needs of disabled parents, and the experiences of growing older.
The Strategy is unique in Government because it is jointly owned by six departments and has been co-produced with those whose lives will be directly affected by its policies: disabled people. It commits the Government to monitoring its impact year on year.
Today's event brought together disabled people, local service providers and government officials to discuss how to involve disabled people in implementing and monitoring the Strategy.
The Department for Transport has made good progress in improving accessibility to public transport. The most comprehensive review of the Blue Badge scheme for a decade was recently announced, with the aim of providing a scheme fit for modern users and which will meet changing needs. A similar consultation on taxi accessibility will be launched later this year.
In 2006, the DfT announced £370 million to improve access to railway stations and this year has announced that a further 40 stations and 223 small schemes will benefit from this funding. This is in addition to the extended concessionary fares scheme, which was introduced on 1 April. Following DfT funding of £212 million, up to 11 million elderly and disabled people can now travel anywhere in England for free by bus.
The Independent Living Strategy was developed in response to the Independent Living Review, which was launched in July 2006 and aimed to find imaginative ways of supporting independent living for disabled people; it was a cross-government project led by the Office for Disability Issues.
The involvement of disabled people, from all parts of the country, of all ages, backgrounds and experiences will be critical to delivering the vision of independent living. It is this involvement, at both national and regional levels that will ensure the success of the Strategy.