Outrage as dedicated minister for disabled 'scrapped', No10 confirms

14 December 2023, 13:27 | Updated: 14 December 2023, 13:38

Rishi Sunak has scrapped the dedicated minister for disabled people
Rishi Sunak has scrapped the dedicated minister for disabled people. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Rishi Sunak has scrapped the dedicated minister for disabled people, Downing Street confirmed today.

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It comes after the PM turned the minister for migration into two roles last week, and recently created a new "minister for common sense" in the cabinet office.

The government has not yet replaced Tom Pursglove since he took over in a new job as immigration minister, after Robert Jenrick quit.

But No10 said this afternoon that it would pass the responsibilities to an existing minister in the Department for Work and Pensions team, rather than replace him.

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A No10 spokesperson told LBC at a briefing for reporters: "It will be an existing minister taking on the brief.”

They denied that the role was being downgraded, saying: "It's not right. We will have a minister for disabled people who will lead on that important work.

"Actions matter. You will continue to see a government showing strong support for disabled people and disabled issues."

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt was grilled on the replacement this morning.

She told MPs: "The minister for disability is a very important point and I'm sure that reshuffle announcement will be made imminently.

"But I would also just remind the House every government department has a disability lead in place."

Grassroots Out holds UK
Tom Pursglove was moved as minister for disabled people, to the minister for legal migration. Picture: Getty

Mr Pursglove was moved to the role of minister for legal migration last week.

And Michael Tomlinson was put in the role of minister for illegal migration.

But the move has already sparked outrage.

Disability charity Scope's director of strategy James Taylor said: “This is an appalling and retrograde move by the government.“What kind of message does this give to Britain’s 16 million disabled people? That – in the middle of a cost of living crisis - we are now less important?

“Life costs more if you are disabled. There hasn’t been cost of living payment for disabled people this winter. And negative welfare rhetoric has ramped up this year.

“We must have a minister for disabled people in government, to be a champion of disabled people and disability, and make sure policy doesn’t leave disabled people behind and disadvantaged."

Labour's Vicky Foxcroft said: “Shocking that Rishi Sunak has chosen not to appoint a new Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work.

“After 13 years of Tory austerity, pandemic and cost of living crisis, disabled people feel their voices aren’t being heard and represented in Government. This confirms it.”

The DWP is expected to announce who will take over the role imminently.

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