Scotland politics

Plan to boost Scots disability support

Man in wheelchair next to Forth Bridge Image copyright Lukassek
Image caption Holyrood is taking over control of welfare payments including disability benefits

The Scottish government aims to halve the employment gap for disabled people as part of an action plan to boost disability support.

The Fairer Scotland for Disabled People plan includes 93 actions aimed at aiding independent living, protecting rights and improving working lives.

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said 1m disabled people contribute to Scotland's communities.

Disability groups welcomed the plan as a "positive direction of travel".

Campaigners say many disabled people still face discrimination, poverty and prejudice.

The Scottish government, which is taking over some social security services including disability benefits, drew up the action plan around five key ambitions. They are:

  • Decent incomes and fairer working lives
  • Support services which promote independent living
  • Making housing and transport accessible to everyone
  • Full protection for the rights of disabled people
  • Active participation for the disabled in all aspects of daily and public life

Ms Freeman launched the plan at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow, where she met disabled staff, interns and apprentices from businesses and organisations around the city.

She said: "We know many disabled people are still unable to live their lives as they would want to because of the barriers in their way.

"It is not the impairment which disables people, but society's failure to adapt our environment, workplaces and information so they are open to everyone on an equal basis. This must change.

"The time for talking is over and it's time for action. We cannot achieve these changes unless we work together across the public sector and with the direct involvement of disabled people. Our strong collaboration is essential as we take the 93 actions forward."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The action plan includes plans to make transport accessible for everyone

The move was welcomed by disability groups, although they warned that there was "no time to lose" in the current climate of welfare cuts.

Dr Sally Witcher, chief executive of Inclusion Scotland, said the plan sets out "a positive direction of travel towards a fairer Scotland for disabled people, based on a firm foundation of human rights".

She said: "Specific commitments on funding for internships, to promote volunteering and to help address the under-representation of disabled people in politics and public life are particularly welcome.

"But the challenge now is to transform ambitions into actions that will, in turn, transform disabled people's lives and the country we live in. There is much to be done and no time to lose."

Layla Theiner of Disability Agenda Scotland added: "As the plan notes, public spending cuts to services and social security have negatively impacted a large number of disabled people and exacerbated inequalities.

"It is key that the ambitions and actions in the report are realised to ensure a difference is made to their lives."

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