Last week, Julia Lopez MP brought local disability groups together with Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, to share ideas on how to make it simpler to access support and find fulfilling work for people in Hornchurch and Upminster with disabilities.
Minister Tomlinson wanted to hear first-hand the experiences of Havering residents in accessing the disability benefits system either for themselves or those they care for and will be using their feedback to inform the forthcoming Health and Disability Green Paper. Joining the meeting were former Paralympic Chairman and Havering disabilities campaigner, Mike Brace CBE, Gulsharan McDermott, Deputy Headteacher at Corbets Tey School and representatives from the Havering Association for Disabilities (H.A.D.), for which Julia and Mike are Patrons.
Topics of discussion included what kind of extra support disabled people need, the importance of formal advocacy, how to make the assessment process easier to complete, and increasing employment opportunities. Minister Tomlinson said the input of the participants was “invaluable” and has encouraged them to respond to the Green Paper on publication.
Minister Tomlinson has worked tirelessly from Westminster to improve the support available to disabled people and is determined to address any problems via the Green Paper while using the lessons from the pandemic to make services more accessible. He is also putting the final touches to the National Disability Strategy, a landmark plan to transform disabled people’s everyday lives. A cross-government effort, Julia is leading the Cabinet Office’s work on the Strategy, which is due to be published shortly.
Julia Lopez MP said “It was fantastic to bring together a group of people who have personal experience of navigating the support system for those with disabilities and give them the opportunity to engage so directly with the Minister responsible for improving it. Around £2.7 billion a year of financial support is unclaimed by those entitled to it and the Minister is determined to make the system much more user-friendly and geared to the needs of those who require support and want better access to good job opportunities”.