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Olympic boss condemns UK government for not signing disabled minister

Dave Clarke

The chief executive of ParalympicsGB has condemned the government for not signing a minister of state for disabled people.

It was announced last month that the position would be downgraded to a junior level causing concern from charities and campaigners.

Dave Clarke, CE of ParalympicsGB has sent an open letter, signed by 57 sporting bodies, to the prime minister asking for the role to be reintroduced. 

"It is so important disabled people are valued for the important role that they play across our society," said Clarke.

"That is why we and our partners from across the system are urging the government to reverse its decision and ensure that there is representation at the very top so we can work towards achieving equality for disabled people in this country."

One of the signatures on the open letter was from Justine Barnes, chief executive of British Wheelchair Basketball.

"With this one decision, the government have stated that 24% of the population are not a priority and do not need to have their voices heard,” said Barnes.

"Furthermore, absorbing the role into a junior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) position demonstrates that people with a disability are simply viewed as benefit claimants rather than being valued for the important role that they play across our society.

"We have a major problem in this country around attitudes to disability and decisions like this only compound the issue. We need to change the narrative so that nearly a quarter of the people in our country are valued, recognised and heard.  Only by ensuring that we have representation for disabled people within our government will this change."

Other sporting bodies who signed the letter included representatives from UK Athletics, British Cycling and the British Olympic Association.

Mims Davies currently holds the role as a parliamentary under secretary of state, it may sound like an important position - but it’s actually the lowest rung you can have in parliament.

Before Davies took the job, Tom Pursglove was the Minister for Disabled People, a role which no longer exists.

A UK government spokesperson said Davies "will build upon this government's track record of supporting disabled people, having delivered millions of cost of living payments and helping over one million more disabled people into work five years earlier than planned.

"The minister will help ensure there is always a strong safety net for the most vulnerable in our society, while tearing down barriers so that every disabled person can realise their potential and thrive."

[ France will host its first ever Paralympics between 28 August - 8 September 2024 ]

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