Countryside and heritage champion set to improve access for disabled people

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) the Government announced that it will be recruiting a new countryside and heritage disability champion to help tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers.

The champion will use their influential status as a leader in the sector to challenge the assumption that disabled people cannot access the outdoors or old buildings.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission found that disabled people are almost ten times* as likely to report being limited in taking part in leisure activities compared to non-disabled people.

The new champion will join the existing 14 champions who are already driving improvements to the accessibility of services and facilities in a range of sectors, including banking, music and tourism.

Minister for Disabled People Health and Work Sarah Newton said:

“There are nearly 14 million disabled people living in the UK, and our world-leading heritage sector must ensure it is capitalising on the spending power of their households – the Purple Pound – worth £249 billion every year.

“Getting out into the countryside is an experience that many of us take for granted, but for disabled people it can often be much more difficult to access nature. Our new champion will play an important role in ensuring everyone can enjoy the outstanding natural beauty our country has to offer.”

The existing champions have already made significant progress in breaking down the barriers faced by disabled consumers.

For example, the music champion Suzanne Bull has launched a new industry taskforce aimed at improving the experience for deaf and disabled customers when booking tickets for live music events.

Johnny Timpson is the disability champion for the insurance industry and Industry Affairs Manager at Scottish Widows. Johnny Timpson is bringing together representatives from the insurance industry, regulatory bodies and charities for the first time to look at how to make the industry more transparent and inclusive.

Insurance Champion Johnny Timpson said:

“Walking the talk on diversity is essential for the insurance sector, and my champion role enables me to work with the industry to improve access to affordable insurance for disabled consumers.

“Becoming a champion has allowed me to bring key players to the table to agree on a clear set of actions for making the insurance industry more inclusive.”

The disability champions are just one of the ways the Government is ensuring that disabled people can participate fully in society. A whole range of support is on offer to support those disabled people who want to work to find a job that is right for them.