The Harrogate and Knaresborough MP has raised the importance of ‘making the UK more disability friendly’ before parliament following round-table discussions with community and business leaders in the district.
Andrew Jones called for more debate on the issue yesterday (February 22) where he flagged a dinner, co-hosted with charity Disability Action Yorkshire (DAY) earlier this month, to identify opportunities for disabled people.
He said: “Last week in partnership with Disability Action Yorkshire we brought together leaders from across my constituency, leaders from business, service providers, transport providers, to discuss how to make Harrogate and Knaresborough even more friendly for disabled people. It was a very good session, we had practical ideas and helpful connections made.
“So can we have a debate, to build on the debate later today, looking at how we can make the UK more disability friendly?”
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, MP Andrea Leadsom, responded by pointing to an additional 600,000 disabled people being in work across the UK but said ‘there is still a lot more to do’.
She said: “First can I congratulate my honourable friend for his huge efforts in this area and commend him for that meeting that he has called together.
“He might be aware of the back bench business debate that takes place later today on the role of disabled people in economic growth, and I can tell him that the government spends over £50 billion a year on benefits that support disabled people and people with health conditions.
“More than ever before in fact up £7 billion since 2010, with the result there are now three and half million disabled people in work, which is up by nearly 600,000 in the last four years.
“So he is right there is still a lot more to do and a lot more that can be done, but we are making good progress.”
The event at the Hotel du Vin saw representatives including disabilities campaigner and charity patron, Baroness Masham of Ilton, examine areas including transport, tourism, housing and education.
Businesses opening their doors to disabled workers was identified as an issue in the district.
Chair of DAY, Neil Revely said: “Our role is to support disabled people to reach their own potential and live their lives to the full, in conjunction with helping businesses to see the opportunities people with disabilities can bring them, both as employees and customers.
“Last year, we celebrated our eightieth anniversary and we want to ensure that our work is as relevant today as it was back in 1927, and by listening to our customers and engaging with the public and private sector, we hope to achieve this.”
According to the charity the service given to a large number of disabled residents in the district has left many feeling establishments were closed to their disability. However hearing of the call in Parliament Jackie Snape, Chief Executive for DAY, hopes the momentum of the meeting will continue to see issues raised.
She said:“It was about looking at how to make Harrogate a good place to both live and visit for disabled people. We know for instance that 75 per cent of disabled people in the district have left a restaurant or shop because of the service, leaving them feeling it was closed to their disability.”
She added: “I am really pleased to hear that this has been raised in parliament, there was so much commitment and enthusiasm on the evening.”