Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - Jeremy Hunt, shadow minister for disabled people

What have you been pressuring the shoe retailer Clarks to do?

I joined forces with the charity Steps in a bid to get Clarks to reverse the decision to abolish its odd shoe size scheme. The scheme has benefited hundreds of children with conditions such as talipes, also known as club foot. If a child has odd sized feet, parents have to pay only 25 per cent of the price for a second pair of shoes.

Kitting children out with shoes is expensive enough, but for parents whose children require different sizes it is much worse because they have to buy two different pairs.

How did you convince Clarks to change its mind?

I lobbied Peter Bolliger, chief executive of the company. I wrote to him and explained the flaws in his company's decision. Together with Steps, I also mounted a campaign that attracted a lot of support.

Is the scheme good enough?

That is a very good question. I think the Clarks scheme is definitely a step in the right direction - Clarks is doing a lot more for children with talipes than other high-street shoe retailers.

Sadly, many other retailers appear to have scaled down their commitment to children with such conditions and have abolished discount and specialist fitting schemes over the past five years.

What more can be done?

In an ideal world, I would like to see parents being able to pick individual shoes according to size, so they would only need to buy one pair at a time.

Will you be doing more?

I will be working with Steps over the coming months to lobby other retailers to adopt similar schemes. I shall also be writing to Anne McGuire, minister for disabled people, to ask for her support.

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