Sight loss charities express ‘grave concern’ over downgrading of disabilities minister position

Guide Dogs, RNIB and the Thomas Pocklington Trust have reiterated that those living with disabilities need a ‘dedicated champion’ in government

The interior of a train, with the legs of a person wearing jeans, a white stick, and a guide dog visible
Three leading sight loss charities have spoken out over the Government’s decision not to appoint a specific minister for disabled people.

The role, previously held by Tom Pursglove, has been downgraded from a ministerial position to a parliamentary undersecretary of state role.

Pursglove left the position after being made Minister for Legal Migration on 7 December.

Mims Davies will take on the disabilities brief alongside her position as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Guide Dogs, Royal National Institute of Blind People and the Thomas Pocklington Trust have emphasised the importance of having a minister with a clear focus on issues affecting disabled people.

They underlined that this group is being disproportionately affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

In a joint statement, the charities said: “We need a dedicated champion at a senior level within Government to ensure the voices of people with disabilities are being heard, as time and again the needs of people with disabilities are ignored.

“The previous Minister for Disabled People launched a consultation on the Disability Action Plan that has measures on important issues, including tackling refusals of guide and other assistance dogs, provision of services for disabled children, and access to elected office.”

The statement added: “It is essential that Mims Davies is now given the seniority to take these measures forward and to work across government to break down the barriers that make life harder for disabled people. These should be her sole responsibility rather than adding these responsibilities to her existing role in the Department for Work and Pensions.”