A senior civil servant has admitted to MPs and peers that the government’s industrial strategy will not be “fit for purpose” unless it corrects its failure to consider disability and other equality issues in a green paper it published in January.
Alex Williams, the civil servant responsible for sector deals* for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was twice forced to acknowledge to the all party parliamentary group for disability (APPGD) that the government’s industrial strategy would need to address the previous failure to mention disability and equality issues, when it is published later this year.
In its first meeting of the new parliament, the APPGD focused on the government’s attempts to halve the disability employment gap. But Philip Connolly, policy manager for Disability Rights UK (DR UK), told the meeting that both the green paper and the government’s earlier national infrastructure plan “may not even be legal documents” because of their “complete omission of equalities”.
He said he believed the government had breached its public sector equality duty to look at all of its policies and programmes through the “prism” of equality and fairness, and he asked why there was “a complete omission of equalities in the drawing up of these documents”.
Despite the equality duty, there is not a single mention of disability or disabled people, or even equality, in the 132-page Building Our Industrial Strategy green paper, while there is just one mention of disability (relating to investment in special educational needs) and no mention of equality in the 113-page 2016 National Infrastructure Delivery Plan.