Today, 15 December, Plymouth Moor View MP, Johnny Mercer, arranged a meeting between local social enterprise, Pluss SW, and Minister for Disabilities, Penny Mordaunt MP.
The meeting comes hot on the heels of the launch of the APPG for Disabilities report, Ahead of the arc. The report called for new measures to be put in place to accelerate the government’s manifesto commitment of halving the disability employment gap.
At the meeting, held in Caxton House, Mr Mercer and Pluss SW advocated some of the excellent work that Pluss themselves have been involved within Plymouth and updated the Minister on the Disability Confident event held recently at the National Marine Aquarium, the largest in the South West, before detailing some of the issues they had encountered from working on the front line.
However, in responding, the Minister referred to one of the key recommendations of the APPG report which asked for greater confidence in the ‘Disability Confident’ status awarded to companies by explaining that this was now independently audited to provide more confidence in the scheme. Furthermore, she said the government would now be applying preferred supplier status to those companies who had be deemed to be Disability Confident, another key recommendation from Ahead of the arc.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Mercer, who is also Vice-Chair of the APPG for Disabilities, said:
“I found this morning’s meeting a really productive one. I work hard to bring those from Plymouth who are working at the business end of government policy to Westminster to meet with the various Ministers deciding policy. I think that kind of feedback is helpful, sometimes it is positive, sometimes negative, but always with the aim of making policy better.
“Lately, I have not been one to shy away from criticising official policy, but I was genuinely pleased to hear of the DWP’s changes to Disability Confident especially as they were recommended improvements in the APPG’s report.
“As for the preferred bidder status, I think that is a huge step forward. The government has massive procurement power and they can now start to use that as a real force for change.”