North Norfolk MP backs call for Carer Friendly Communities

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, is showing his support for unpaid carers across the country by backing this week's annual awareness campaign, Carers Week.

Carers Week 2016 (6th-12th June) aims to raise awareness of the vital contribution made by the 6.5 million people in the UK who care unpaid for a disabled, older or ill family member or friend, and the pressures and challenges they face.

Stress, anxiety and depression are all too common among carers in the UK, who often struggle to combine their caring responsibilities with work, education, and personal relationships. New research launched for Cares Week 2016 shows that 3 in 4 carers don’t feel that their caring role is understood or valued by their community.  The survey found that:

  • 51% of carers have let a health problem go untreated and 50% said their mental health has got worse, while 4 in 10 haven’t received any training or information about how to stay well.
  • A third of carers (33%) say their employer doesn’t have policies in place to support them. Of these, 72% had to give up work or reduced their hours, and more than half have suffered higher stress levels (57%) or struggled financially (55%).
  • Nearly half (46%) of carers say there are no policies in place to support them at their school, college or university. 48% of these were unable to progress their education and were forced to give up their studies.

That is why the focus for this year’s Carers Week is on ‘Building Carer Friendly Communities’ – communities which support carers to look after their loved ones, while also recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own.

In a Carer Friendly Community, for example, a GP service might offer appointments at times that fit around a person’s caring responsibilities; employers might offer flexible working hours; and a college or university could offer young carers flexible timetables and coursework extensions to allow students to continue their education and work towards a bright future.

Norman Lamb MP, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former Minister of State for Care and Support (2012-15), said:

“It is extremely important that we recognise the dedicated and inspiring care given by millions of unpaid carers every single day.  Whether it’s by providing emotional support, personal care like getting someone dressed and helping them to the bathroom, or helping with daily routines like shopping, cleaning and cooking, carers make an invaluable contribution to society which too often goes unnoticed. 

“Yet without the right support and understanding from the community, the pressure of being a carer can take its toll. Nobody should be expected to care for someone else without support for their own personal, physical and emotional wellbeing, and that is why I’m pledging my support for the campaign to build Carer Friendly Communities.

“By doing things a little differently, we can make a really positive difference to the lives of carers by helping them to pursue an education, stay in work, and find the time to look after their own health. I hope this year’s Carers Week will be a catalyst to provide carers with the help and support they need.”


About Carers Week 2016

Carers Week takes place from 6–12 June 2016, across the UK.

Carers Week is an annual awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers across the UK.

Carers Week is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MS Society. Carers Week is supported by Sainsbury’s, Nutricia and the Lockwood Charitable Foundation.


Twitter: @CarersWeek




Facts about carers

  • 6.5 million people in the UK are carers; that’s 1 in 8 adults
  • By 2037, it is estimated that the number of carers in the UK will rise to 9 million
  • Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility – that equals over 2 million people every year
  • 58% of carers are women and 42% are men
  • Carers save the economy £132 billion per year, an average of £19,336 per carer
  • Over 3 million people juggle care with work, however the significant demands of caring mean that 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether

MP challenges Government on Social Care funding in Norfolk

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, today challenged the Government to ensure that social care services in Norfolk do not miss out on vital resources from the Better Care Fund, after Norfolk County Council was informed that local CCGs and NHS England plan to remove additional funding that was provided to protect social care last year.

The Better Care Fund, which pools resources from the NHS and local government to strengthen the integration of health and social care services in a locality, has been beset by concerns that the Fund is mainly being used to ease pressures in the NHS, rather than provide much-needed support to social care services which are under severe strain.

In a letter sent on behalf of West Norfolk, Norwich, South Norfolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney, and North Norfolk CCGs, seen by Norman Lamb MP, Norfolk County Council was informed that none of the CCGs are able to support spending plans to protect social care in the 2016/17 round of the Better Care Fund, due to pressures on CCG finances. 

The CCGs admit that the decision, which is endorsed by NHS England, will leave Norfolk County Council “with a significant challenge in bridging the [financial] position during 2016/17”.

In Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Norman Lamb referred to the latest developments in Norfolk as an example of the failure of the Better Care Fund to properly support social care. He said that there was a “very real risk” that elderly people and people with disabilities would miss out, and asked how the Department for Communities and Local Government will work together with the Department for Health to address the situation.

Commenting after speaking in the House of Commons, Norman Lamb said:

“We have a deeply worrying situation in Norfolk. The whole point of the Better Care Fund, which I helped establish, was to invest more in joined up care which prevents people becoming more unwell and ending up in hospital.

“The decision by the Clinical Commissioning Groups to remove funding for the protection of social care is, in one sense, understandable, because they face an impossible financial challenge. But it is disastrous for vital support services for frail elderly people and disabled people.

“The ridiculous thing is that it will end up with more people being admitted to hospital with all the disruption to people's lives that that involves and it will cost more to the NHS.

“The bottom line is that the NHS and social care need more resources. That's why I will keep repeating my call for a cross party commission to develop a long term settlement for the NHS and care.”



Norman Lamb’s full question in the House of Commons was as follows:

“In my county of Norfolk, the clinical commissioning groups have told the County Council that they are withdrawing the money from the Better Care Fund that was available for the protection of social care last year, leaving at least a £7.5 million gap. What is he doing in his discussions with the Secretary of State for Health to ensure that social care is protected? The risk of elderly, frail people and disabled people losing out more is very real.”

The full response of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark MP, was as follows:

“The Gentleman knows from his experience at the Department of Health how important it is to make sure that the social care system and the health care system are joined up. Part of the integration of health and social care is to make sure that these people – whether they are patients of the NHS, or whether they are cared for by local authorities – can have the best care available delivered in the most efficient way.”

Norman Lamb MP uncovers shocking A&E waiting figures

Shocking new figures on the length of time patients wait in ambulances outside A&E departments have been uncovered by Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk.

The number of people waiting longer than 2 hours to be handed over to hospital staff quadrupled over the last 3 years, according to figures obtained from England's ten ambulance trusts following Freedom of Information requests.

A total of 10,418 people waited more than 2 hours in 2015/16 - a dramatic increase from just 2,215 in 2013/14.  The figures were unveiled on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

Patients in London and the West Midlands were forced to endure waits of more than 9 hours before being admitted to A&E. The audit also showed that the number of people waiting more than an hour almost trebled from 26,462 to 70,504 over the same period. 

The national target for handing patients over from ambulance crews to hospital staff is 15 minutes. However, figures show that a total of 397,308 hours were wasted due to handover delays exceeding this 15-minutes target - which is equivalent to a staggering 16,554 days. 

In the North West, the number of people waiting for more than an hour increased four-fold and the number waiting more than 2 hours increased ten-fold. In the East of England, seven times as many people were waiting over 2 hours, while the total number of hours lost due to handover delays more than doubled from 25,000 to almost 55,000. 

Commenting on the findings, Norman Lamb said:
“It is hard to imagine just how distressing it must be for a patient, having been rushed to A&E in urgent need of treatment, to then be left waiting hours for the care they need. The strain this puts on NHS staff and finances is also unsustainable.
“The Government cannot ignore the desperate state acute hospitals are now in, as they struggle to cope with the demand for services and limited resource. And it is quite clear that this problem is getting rapidly worse, not better.

“If the Health Secretary wants to show he is serious about protecting patients, and safeguarding our health and care services for  future generations, he must bring together a commission of independent and cross-party experts to look at how to deliver health and care more sustainably and to secure a new long term financial settlement for the NHS and social care. These figures are yet more evidence of how seriously such a Commission is needed. At present the Government is sleep-walking towards a severe crash in the NHS which will have dreadful consequences for patients.”

Norman Lamb has also written a blog for Liberal Democrat Voice

Norman Lamb demands legal protection for foster carers

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, has called on the Government to extend the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which provides legal protection for whistleblowers, to cover foster carers.

The call has been made during Foster Care Fortnight 2016 (16th-29th May), the UK’s biggest annual campaign to showcase the commitment, passion and dedication of foster carers and to highlight the need for more than 9,000 new foster families in the next 12 months.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) protects workers from detrimental treatment or victimisation from their employer if, in the public interest, they speak out against wrongdoing or malpractice.

However, the Act does not currently apply to foster carers – meaning that foster carers are in an extremely vulnerable position if they choose to disclose information about alleged wrongdoing such as criminal offences, illegal activity, or threats to the health and safety of a child. Foster carers are therefore less likely to have the confidence to blow the whistle, potentially placing children at continued risk.

In 2013, the Whistleblowing Commission chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Anthony Hooper recommended that PIDA is extended to cover foster carers to address this.  Norman Lamb has now tabled a parliamentary motion calling on the Government to act on this recommendation by bringing forward proposals to extend the scope of the Act. 

He has also written to the Chief Executive of the Fostering Network, which is the UK’s leading fostering charity, inviting them to support the motion.

Norman Lamb said: “I am very happy to raise this important issue in Parliament during Foster Care Fortnight. Too often foster carers are left marginalised and voiceless. The Queen’s Speech last week promised new legislation to improve the adoption system, but it was conspicuously silent on the invaluable role of foster carers who give a loving home to thousands of children in need.

“The wellbeing and safety of children will continue to be under threat if the Government does not address this legal anomaly and lack of rights for foster carers with regard to whistleblowing. Foster carers must be afforded the same protections that other carers enjoy. That was the clear recommendation of the Whistleblowing Commission, and I hope that the Government takes steps to implement this sooner rather than later.”

The motion has been welcomed by the Norfolk Foster Care Association. Ray Bewry, from the NFCA, said: “We are highly encouraged by Mr Lamb’s initiative coming in this Foster Care Fortnight. The success of Mr Lamb’s motion will, we believe, give Foster Carers the courage to blow the whistle, giving them the same protection afforded by PIDA to all other members of the Care Team.”


Full text of the Parliamentary Motion:


That this House notes that the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) does not cover foster carers; further notes that such carers are therefore in a vulnerable position if they choose to speak out about alleged wrongdoing or poor practice; expresses concern that this may act as a disincentive to foster carers exposing wrongdoing or poor practice, thereby potentially putting vulnerable children at continued risk; notes that the Whistleblowing Commission chaired by the right hon. Sir Anthony Hooper recommended that the Government uses the powers set out in section 20 of the Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to extend PIDA to cover foster carers; and therefore calls on the Government to bring forward proposals to extend the scope of that Act accordingly.

MP calls for urgent action to communicate risks of drug in pregnant women

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, has tabled a parliamentary motion calling for urgent action to ensure that women are properly informed of the risks of a drug which can cause severe harm to an unborn child.

Valproate is used for treating epilepsy and bipolar disorder – but has long been known to carry an increased risk of birth defects and developmental disorders in babies when taken by pregnant women. These can include spina bifida, malformations of the face, skull, limbs and organs, lower intelligence, poor speech and language skills, and memory problems.

Following a Europe-wide review, which came about following pressure from Norman Lamb and campaigners during his time as Health Minister, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has developed a Toolkit to ensure that women who are being prescribed valproate medicines are better informed about the risks of the drug during pregnancy. The Toolkit includes clearer warning labels on valproate packaging, information booklets for women, and a checklist to ensure that the risks have been properly discussed with the prescribing clinician.

Although the Government says that the Toolkit should have been issued by the MHRA and the manufacturer in February 2016, there have been reports that many clinicians and pharmacies have not received these essential resources – meaning that women across the country remain at risk of taking the medicine without being fully aware of its dangers. 

The motion tabled by Norman Lamb calls on the MHRA, UK Government, and NHS England to intervene urgently to ensure that the Valproate Toolkit is received and properly utilised by clinicians and pharmacists nationwide.

Norman Lamb said: “It’s incredibly worrying that this crucial information Toolkit isn’t getting through to women as it should.  Valproate can cause severe harm to an unborn child, and the decision to use the medicine should only be made when a woman is fully informed of its risks.

“These risks have been known by regulators for decades. Now that this Toolkit has finally been developed, the Government, MHRA and NHS England must waste absolutely no time in getting to the root of this problem. There has to be accountability.”

Janet Williams and Emma Murphy from IN-FACT (The Independent Fetal Anti Convulsant Trust), which has campaigned for better communication of the risks of using valproate in pregnancy, said:

“IN-FACT worked closely with the MHRA to agree and disseminate the Valproate Toolkit. But because the MHRA has only sent the toolkit to pharmacies and surgeries that subscribe to its alerts system, it seems that its distribution has been left largely in the hands of the drugs company.

“This has caused system failure with this vital information not reaching women of child-bearing age, and therefore around 30,000 women prescribed valproate unable to make that all-important informed choice.”



That this House notes with concern that the medicine valproate, which is used for the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder, can seriously harm an unborn child when taken during pregnancy, including increased risk of malformations and developmental disorders; welcomes the development of a valproate toolkit to aid communication of the risks of valproate in pregnancy, including a warning on package labelling, a checklist for discussion between prescribers and patients, a reminder card and information booklet for women, and a booklet for healthcare professionals; further notes that the toolkit was disseminated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the valproate manufacturer, Sanofi, in February 2016; expresses concern at reports that many pharmacists and clinicians have not received the toolkit, potentially leaving many women ill-informed of the severe risks of the medicine; and urgently calls on the Government, the MHRA and NHS England to work together to ensure that the toolkit is effectively disseminated and utilised across the country so that all women being prescribed valproate are fully informed of the risks to an unborn child.

MPs call for change in the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, is taking action with fellow East Anglia MPs Dr. Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) and Peter Aldous (Waveney) to demand a change in the law to improve support for benefits recipients who lack the mental capacity to manage their financial affairs.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 established the Court of Protection to provide protection for individuals who lack mental capacity to make decisions about their own lives.  This can include the appointment of a Deputy, who is authorised to make decisions for those unable to manage their financial affairs.

However, the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act currently advises that people who are receiving benefits do not generally require the assistance of a Deputy – making it extremely difficult for these people to manage their finances, pay a mortgage, and authorise a range of basic day-to-day payments.

Norman Lamb, together with Dan Poulter and Peter Aldous, has tabled a parliamentary motion calling for a change in the Code of Practice to allow the appointment of Deputies for people who are in receipt of benefits.

The Professional Deputy Service scheme in Suffolk currently offers a Deputy service to benefits recipients, allowing them ‘to manage their finances and to live as independently as possible’. This has had a huge impact on the lives of many vulnerable people in the county.

Norman Lamb MP said: “I’m very pleased to work with Dan Poulter and Peter Aldous to highlight this unfairness.  In its current form, the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act means that many people who are already in a vulnerable position miss out on crucial support for managing their finances.

"We should always aim to learn from best practice, and the Professional Deputy Service in Suffolk has shown the difference that the appointment of a Deputy can make to the lives of people who are receiving benefits. I hope that the Government will recognise the importance of this and implement the changes to the Code of Practice without delay.”

Dr. Dan Poulter MP said: “I am very happy to jointly sponsor this Early Day Motion (EDM) and welcome the opportunity to raise this issue in Parliament.  This is the first in a series of steps to address an undesirable and unintentional consequence of the Mental Health Act.”

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney said: “It is important that there is an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The work of the Professional Deputy Service shows a clear need for their services to help those most vulnerable who struggle to look after their own finances.”



That this House notes that Patients of the Court of Protection, people who lack capacity to manage their affairs, can have a Deputy appointed who can manage their affairs, including the ability to make speedy decisions on authorising payment for adaptations to the home and many other day-to-day expenditures; further notes that the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 advises that people receiving benefits do not usually need a Deputy; notes the innovative scheme in Suffolk, run by the Professional Deputy Service, which offers a Deputy service to benefits recipients; recognises that this has had a very positive impact on people's lives; further recognises that without a Deputy decision-making on vital expenditure will usually be delayed; and calls on the Ministry of Justice to change the Code of Practice to ensure that those receiving benefits can be afforded the same opportunities and decision-making service in regard to their financial affairs that others, with more money, already enjoy.

Norman Lamb says Queen's Speech a missed opportunity for public services

The Queen’s Speech fails to address some of the biggest challenges facing the country, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has warned in a House of Commons debate on ‘Defending Public Services’.

Mr. Lamb said that the safety of patients is being put at risk by the immense financial pressure facing the NHS, three days after NHS trusts announced a record deficit of £2.45bn. He highlighted the “massive consequences” of the underfunding of mental health and cuts to preventive services, including immense pressure on hospitals and an increase in the scandalous practice of people with mental illness being shunted around the country in search of a bed.

Mr. Lamb also pointed to the high number of people with mental illness in prisons, and a spike in prison suicides, as a “fundamental failure of public policy”.  Challenging the Government to “radically reduce the number of people who end up inappropriately in our prisons”, he repeated his call for end to the so-called ‘war on drugs’, a legalised and regulated cannabis market, and a greater focus on mental health treatment orders as an alternative to prison sentences.

You can read the full speech here.

Speaking after the debate, Norman Lamb said:

“The Queen’s Speech was a real missed opportunity to address these critical challenges.

“Every day we are confronted with stark new evidence of the pressures facing health and care services. As well as more funding, there is now an overwhelming need for all parties to come together to design a new long-term settlement for the system.

“We also have to stop unfairly criminalising young people and gifting billions of pounds to organised crime through our arcane drugs laws. Britain is behind the curve on this. I strongly believe we must follow the more enlightened and evidence-based policies adopted in countries such as Canada, Portugal and Uruguay, with a focus on safety and public health through regulation rather than dishing out criminal records and prison sentences.”

100 MPs sign Norman Lamb’s Motion Calling for Non Gender-Specific ‘X’ Passports

100 MPs have signed a motion calling for legal recognition for people who do not associate with a particular gender, tabled by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

Early Day Motion 660 recognises that people whose identities are neither male nor female are “compromised and diminished” by UK passport policy, which currently requires each person’s passport to be marked with an ‘M’ or ‘F’.

The motion “urges that the Government and HM Passport Office make non gender-specific X passports available in the UK to people who do not identify with a particular gender”.

A growing number of countries already allow non gender-specific passports to be issued to applicants when neither ‘M’ nor ‘F’ apply; including Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Nepal and India.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee's 'Transgender Equality' report, published in January 2016, also recommended that “The UK must follow Australia’s lead in introducing an option to record gender as “X” on a passport. If Australia is able to implement such a policy there is no reason why the UK cannot do the same. In the longer term, consideration should be given to the removal of gender from passports.”


Norman Lamb MP, who is re-tabling the motion for the new parliamentary session 2016-17, said:

“Reaching this milestone shows the strength of support for the rights of non-gendered people. This is a simple fight for equality. There is no reason why gender should be specified on a passport, and to force people to choose between two binaries is discriminatory and archaic.

“Few parliamentary motions receive the backing of 100 MPs. This achievement is testament to the importance of this issue, and to the tireless and inspiring work of campaigners like Christie Elan-Cane.

“I will continue to throw my full weight behind this campaign, and look forward to giving a voice to people who do not associate with a particular gender in the new parliamentary session.”


Christie Elan-Cane, NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition, said:

“That so many Members of Parliament have openly pledged their support for this issue is a monumental achievement given the issue was completely under the radar when I first approached my former MP in 2005. The issue is not controversial to those of us who define without gender, neither male nor female, whose lives are eroded by social invisibility and a lack of enforceable civil rights.

"Legitimate identity is a fundamental human right and governing authorities cannot just continue ignoring our existence indefinitely. The issue will not go away. A growing number of people are resisting enforced and inappropriate gendered categorisation. Provision of ‘X’ Passports is just the beginning in our fight for equality and fair treatment.”



That this House recognises the support expressed during the last parliamentary session to address the issues faced by people whose identities are neither male nor female; believes that people are compromised and diminished as a result of inappropriate gender references on their personal identity information; acknowledges that all passports issued by HM Passport Office are currently gender-specific and it is therefore not possible to obtain a British passport that contains no reference to gendered identity; understands that the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard specification for machine-readable travel documents (ICAO Document 9303) permits X (unspecified) alongside F (female) and M (male) under a mandatory sex category; notes that citizens of Australia and New Zealand are able to obtain a non gender-specific X passport and that India, Nepal and Pakistan make provision for their citizens when neither M nor F are appropriate; further believes that similar provision is needed in the UK where current discriminatory policy denies non-gendered and bi-gendered people a legitimate identity; and therefore urges that the Government and HM Passport Office make non gender-specific X passports available in the UK to people who do not identify with a particular gender.

Norman Lamb exposes misleading EU figures by Vote Leave

The UK Statistics Authority this week issued a damming verdict on the Vote Leave campaign’s misleading claims that over £350 million a week is sent by the UK to Europe, following a complaint by Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk.

In a letter to the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Andrew Dilnot, Norman Lamb pointed out that the £350 million figure is false because it includes funds which are returned to the UK, but also the UK rebate, which is in fact never sent to the EU.

Responding to the letter, Sir Andrew Dilnot has described the figures used by Leave campaigners as "lacking clarity" and "misleading".

Commenting, Norman Lamb said:

“This is a damning indictment of the Leave campaign. There are no official reputable bodies in the country or internationally who have backed their bogus claims.

“It is yet another example of their desperate attempts to mislead people throughout the referendum.

“They must withdraw any campaign material with this misleading and deliberately unclear figure immediately.

“The British people deserve better.”


The response from Sir Andrew Dilnot can be read here

In his original letter, Norman Lamb wrote:

As you will have seen, Vote Leave, the officially designated campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, has repeatedly claimed that over £350 million a week, or £18.8bn a year, is sent by the UK to Europe.

Vote Leave claim that if Britain were to leave Europe this money could be repatriated and spent in its entirety on the NHS.

This claim has been repeatedly used by the campaign, even though it has been shown to be inaccurate by independent fact-checkers. Just today the BBC has said, “Leaving the EU would not give the UK an extra £350 million a week to spend on the NHS”.

The £350 million figure is false because it includes funds which are returned to the UK, but also the UK rebate, which is in fact never sent to the EU.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has contradicted the figure, stating that the net contribution it is £5.7 billion, not £18.8 billion as Vote Leave claims. The IFS have also said that using contribution figures “without the UK’s rebate having been deducted” is “less sensible”.

Using European Commission figures, the average annual UK net contribution 2010-2014 was £7.1bn, clearly far short of the claims made by Vote Leave.

The Office of National Statistics show an average UK contribution 2010-2014 of £8.9bn.

This evidence conclusively shows that the £350 million figure is factually incorrect and I believe it is being used to purposefully mislead.

I am writing to request that you please confirm that the Vote Leave claim that £350 million is sent to the EU is factually incorrect.

Our concern is that this is being presented as an official statistic, when in fact there is clear and independent evidence to show that it is wrong.

Given the UK Statistics Authority’s role to “promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good” and to “ensure good practice in relation to official statistics”, I believe this falls within your remit.

I hope that you will confirm that this is this figure is incorrect. 

Yours sincerely,
Norman Lamb MP

Norman Lamb meets Minister to discuss Disability Awareness

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health, has advanced his campaign for better disability awareness training for security staff in a constructive meeting with the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson.

The meeting took place following strong cross-party support for a parliamentary motion, tabled by Norman Lamb, highlighting the lack of focus on disability in training specifications for security staff, and the resulting discrimination faced by people with disabilities from door staff outside bars and clubs. The motion supports ‘Enhance the UK’ charity’s campaign for proper disability awareness training to be given to all security and door staff. Jennie Williams and Gary Mazin attended the meeting on behalf of the charity.

In the meeting at the Department of Work and Pensions, the Minister agreed to encourage the Security Industry Association (SIA), which regulates the private security industry in the UK, to engage with charities like Enhance the UK to design better disability awareness training programmes.

Norman Lamb has now written to the Chief Executive of the Local Government Association (LGA), Mark Lloyd, requesting a meeting to discuss the role that local authorities could play in driving change.  This might include requiring a better standard of disability awareness training for security staff when granting entertainment licenses to nightclubs and bars.

Speaking after the meeting, Norman Lamb said:

“We simply cannot tolerate a society where people suffer discrimination because of their disability.  Security staff must be given the training they need to understand disability, and treat people who have disabilities with respect as equal citizens.

“I’m pleased that the Minister has agreed to meet with the SIA to discuss this further, and I hope to secure a meeting with the LGA to explore how local authorities can make a difference in ensuring that local security staff are properly trained in disability awareness. Local authorities could, for instance, force all venues requiring an entertainments' licence to have security staff given this training. 

“I will keep fighting alongside Enhance the UK and other organisations to make sure we see progress on this issue and achieve genuine equality for people with disabilities.”

Gary Mazin, from Enhance the UK, said: 

“After an altercation when I was pushed by a doorman for having a guide dog, and receiving numerous other messages about incidents involving door security staff and disabled access, ‘Enhance the UK’ discovered that there are some glaring flaws in the way that security staff are given training, particularly with regards to disability awareness.

“Thanks to the help of Norman tabling the motion, we were able to discuss this in a positive meeting with the Minister. 

“It’s extremely important that anyone working in the hospitality or service industry must have disability awareness training that isn’t just tick box or reams of legal text. What they need is training that gives practical examples in a simple to understand format. I hope the SIA and local authorities will take more responsibility for the quality and consistency of these training standards, to improve the lives of disabled people when accessing venues across the UK.” 

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