In Tynwald next week, Liberal Vannin MHK Kate Beecroft will call for the Disability Discrimination Act to be brought into force as soon as possible – and that a timetable for this should be published by June this year.
The member for Douglas South said: ‘They’ve been dragging their heels for too long.
‘Even if they say they can’t afford to implement the Act right away we should be given a definite answer one way or another. We should have a proper timetable for implementation.’
Mrs Beecroft said that with the Act having been passed in 2006, the government and the private sector have had enough time to prepare for any changes it might require.
One charity has warned that the delay was leaving the island’s most vulnerable exposed – particularly at a time of major reform to the benefits system.
Ian Cooil, chief executive of Manx Blind Welfare, said: ‘In the absence of the Disability Discrimination Act, there is very little in the way of legislation to protect the most vulnerable in our community. This is a major failing on a national level for the island.’
The Disability Discrimination Act aims to demand minimum levels of disabled access to buildings and prevent discrimination against disabled people in the supply of goods and services. Similar legislation was introduced in the UK in 1995, to be superseded by the Equality Act in 2010,
The Council of Ministers has repeatedly said it is committed to implementing the Act. But Ministers have concerns about the likely financial impact on government, businesses and the voluntary, charitable and not-for-profit organisations.
In September 2011 the Department of Social Care announced it had commissioned a team of UK consultants, Sight and Sound Technology Limited, to assess the likely cost of implementation.
At the time, the then Social Care Minister Martyn Quayle said the aim was to introduce this legislation ‘without further unnecessary delay’ while also ensuring it does not have ‘unintended adverse economic impacts’.
In November 2011, it was announced the department would consult public, private and third sector parties about the implementation of the act.
Current Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw said then that ‘only after a full assessment can we look at the implementation plans and timescales for this important legislation in a manner that is achievable for all involved’.
It was expected that Sight and Sound Technology would complete their assignment by January 2012 after reviewing the findings, and the department would bring the matter before CoMin and Tynwald for approval.
In her motion tabled to next week’s Tynwald, Mrs Beecroft will move that ‘the Disability Discrimination Act 2006 should be brought into force as soon as possible; and that the department should publish a timetable for implementation of the Act by June 2013’.
By Adrian Darbyshire