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Disability law progress down to Budget

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THE coming year will be critical in determining how much progress can be made on the disability and inclusion law during this term of the States, according to the States member sitting on the steering group.

(Picture by Adrian Miller, 22795029)

Emilie Yerby added that a lot depends on whether the Policy & Resources committee provides the support needed during next month’s Budget debate.

Deputy Yerby represents Employment & Social Security on the group, which is working towards a series of goals under the umbrella of disability and inclusion, including discrimination legislation, equal rights, capacity legislation and creating frameworks for people with dementia, communication difficulties, learning disabilities or autism.

The group has been publishing regular updates – highlight reports – on its work on the signpost.gg website and for the last few months these have provided a ‘traffic light’ guide to how each area is progressed.

Of the 13 streams identified, three are green, two are red and the rest are amber.

‘It would make more sense to read the traffic light flags as “indicators of risk” rather than “indicators of progress”,’ she said.

There had been a lot of progress in recent months, even for red- and amber-flagged projects.

‘But they remain high risk because they are resource-intense projects which the States has systematically under-invested in.

‘That means the work is eternally precarious – loss of a key staff member, or the absence of ongoing financial support when the ring-fenced project budget runs out, would put our success immediately at risk,’ said Deputy Yerby.

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Although the work is being guided by the steering group, all of the ESS committee are closely involved with the project, particularly with regard to key decisions about the law and the equality and rights organisation, which are the steering group’s main focus at the moment.

‘Until we know what’s in the Budget, I really can’t place any bets on what will “go green” next,’ she said.

‘Although I know everyone on ESS is willing to work their socks off to make a success of the disability and inclusion strategy – including by getting an equality and rights organisation up and running to help island businesses and employers prepare for the arrival of the law – we won’t succeed unless the rest of the States also supports us, in principle and in practice.

‘For us, the next year will be critical in determining whether we can make progress on the law during this States’ term, so a lot will depend on the Budget debate, and whether P&R are willing to give us the support we need to make progress.’

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ESS vice-president Shane Langlois said the committee was ‘working hard to deliver on its commitment in respect of the development of legislation and an equality and rights organisation as well as overseeing the progress of the multiple work streams’.

‘This important work is one of the top priorities identified in the Policy & Resource Plan and the committee is very conscious that it must do all that it can in this term to deliver this on behalf of the States.’

n Current ‘green’ projects are information and awareness raising for businesses in Guernsey, a framework for dementia and a framework for autism. ‘Red’ projects are the framework for people with communication difficulties and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.n The highlight reports can be viewed at www.signpost.gg/highlightreport.

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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