Disability action benefits us all

Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.
Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.

Parliament rightly and regularly debates issues affecting disabled people, while attitudes towards them have improved in recent years.

I say “them”, but they could be any one of us. Some are disabled from birth, but others will be disabled in accidents and in old age. In enabling the fullest possible lives of disabled people, we are also looking after our own potential interests and society as a whole.

A recent Commons debate made powerful points about the plight of disabled people and independent living. Many face financial penalties in almost every aspect of their lives. These include a huge digital divide, a wheelchair charge in taxis, and unaffordable social care.

The charity Scope says the average additional expense to a disabled person is £550 per month. Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty. Campaigners suggest that equal internet access will increase access to jobs and education, and benefit businesses by £400m a month.

Disability is a part of life, but the policy priority is minimising its impact and maximising the potential of those affected. The government promises to tackle “prejudices and misunderstandings”. I will hold it to its word.

I also back groups such as Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers, a network of 700 young disabled people. Pressure from below can drive government action to enable disabled people.