FCDO and disability-inclusive development – Report Summary

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Author: International Development Committee

Related inquiry: FCDO and disability-inclusive development

Date Published: 4 April 2024

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People with disabilities1 face increased barriers to participation in every aspect of society. They are more likely to face violence, poverty and discrimination, and they are less likely to find employment or to enter education. Significantly, women with disabilities struggle to access appropriate information and services relating to their sexual and reproductive health and rights and face numerous challenges to their bodily autonomy.

The Committee is pleased that the United Kingdom has led the way globally in promoting disability inclusion across its development portfolio. In recent years, the Government has launched two strategies on disability inclusion; co-founded the Global Action on Disability Network; and hosted the inaugural Global Disability Summit. However, in recent years the UK cut its development budget from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%, with devastating consequences, as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office foresaw in equality impact assessments relating to the decision.

Furthermore, we heard evidence that, despite good work, the Department has still not sufficiently mainstreamed disability inclusion across its development activities. This has two effects: the unacceptably poor integration of people with disabilities into development work; and the siloed thinking of various departmental offices, with insufficient consideration paid to disability inclusion across different strategies and targets published by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. This is compounded by the Department’s poor data collection practices across its development work, with multiple commitments to collect disability-disaggregated data as yet unmet. This leaves the Department with a poor evidence base and will hinder the development of best practice.

We also heard of the Department’s mixed record on the safeguarding of people with disabilities across its development work, with some witnesses describing this aspect of safeguarding as an afterthought for programme managers. The Department’s multiple pledges on ending the mass institutionalisation of children with disabilities have also come under scrutiny, with little progress reported on this goal in the years since the ambition was first revealed.

The Department’s engagement with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities also came in for criticism. Stakeholders note that OPDs are consulted arbitrarily and without obligation, making it all too common that policy decisions affecting people with disabilities are made without their direct input. Finally, we heard evidence that the Government does not pay enough attention to the needs of people with disabilities in its planning for humanitarian response and climate change adaption policies.