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Tagged In:  Government News

‘This station has step-free access.’ How often do we hear this when getting off the tube? With 1.4 million disabled people in London, forming 16% of the city’s population, not often enough.

The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised to prioritise the disabled community in the capital. He made these promises at an event where over 170 disabled Londoners voiced their biggest worries and fears. The issues discussed are exactly what you might expect; inadequate housing, poor access to transport, and employment difficulties. 

Accessibility is crucial in order to maintain the autonomy of a disabled person. Inaccessible houses are hugely problematic; as any social worker knows too well. The current waiting list for an accessible home now stands at 300,000, with an estimated five year waiting time. Khan’s solution is to increase the amount of affordable accessible houses in London. Furthermore, he aims to better the consultation with disabled people with regards to planning and housing. 

Employment (or lack of) can be a huge form of indirect discrimination, particularly among young disabled people. People with learning disabilities are often disregarded by employers, yet they deserve the same opportunities as anyone else. The Mayor has promised to make all apprenticeships in City Hall accessible for disabled people, as well as to work with businesses to train disabled people, helping them fulfil their career aspirations.

To get to work, public transport is vital. The social aspect of public transport can be problematic though, as people are often unwilling to move from the priority areas. Khan wants to make the majority of stations accessible, particularly in central areas. He believes this, along with training the staff to be able to deal with the needs of disabled people, will be a suitable solution to the problems that public transport poses on disabled people. However, with only 67 out of 270 tube stations being accessible for disabled people, a huge amount of investment will be needed. 

Above all, there is a deep underlying social problem, in the discrimination of disabled people. Many people fear leaving their home, in worry of physical or verbal abuse. In response, Khan has promised an increase in neighbourhood policing, and more encouragement to report hate crime and has stated he is committed to educating young people in order to generate more respect for disabled people. 

Khan’s ‘hope over fear’ attitude proved successful in his election bid; it will be interesting to see how his plans unfold over the next four years.  

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