2 Our ambition: Decent incomes and fairer working lives
Disabled people are able to participate fully in education and paid employment enabling their talent and abilities to enrich Scotland. Disabled people are supported through transitions in their lives e.g. from school to work. Poverty is addressed for disabled people and their families and Scotland's social security system is built on the principles of fairness, dignity and respect. This approach reflects the principles set out by the Fair Work Convention in their Framework and supports the ambitions of Scotland's Labour Market Strategy.
In the Scotland we want:
- Disabled people are visible and participating within communities, learning and education, volunteering and employment.
- Equal opportunities for disabled people in education and employment.
- Greater understanding and a positive attitude amongst employers and educators to disabled people.
- Improved awareness and understanding of discrimination, prejudice and barriers faced by disabled people including the physical environment, stigma and negative attitudes.
- Benefits delivered in a way that is rights-based and helps meet the additional living and mobility costs of disabled people and treats them with dignity and respect throughout the process.
28. We will reduce barriers to employment for disabled people and seek to reduce by at least half, the employment gap between disabled people and the rest of the working age population. Together with disabled people, their organisations and other key stakeholders we will develop this action in more detail, including a timetable and plan for achieving the reduction.
29. Disabled people are 20% of the population, but make up only 11% of the private sector workforce and 11.7% of the public sector workforce. We will consult with DPOs and public sector bodies around setting targets to redress this imbalance.
30. We will pilot a work experience scheme specifically for young disabled people aimed at improving their transition into permanent employment and removing barriers they can face finding employment.
31. We recognise the success already achieved by Project SEARCH in enabling young people with learning disabilities and autism to secure sustainable employment. We will explore opportunities to promote the Project SEARCH model as we develop plans for greater alignment of learning and skills provision.
32. We will actively promote the Department for Work and Pensions' Access to Work scheme to employers and disabled people to ensure a higher uptake and use of the scheme in Scotland. This includes, for example Fit for Work Scotland and Healthy Working Lives, as well as to other partners including organisations supporting disabled people. For devolved services from 2017, providers will be required to ensure that disabled people are supported to claim and receive the Access to Work funding they are entitled to so that they can sustain employment.
33. When people become disabled or develop health conditions while in employment, early action may help them sustain work. We want to improve the support that disabled people and people with health conditions in Scotland can access to help them stay in, or return quickly to, fair work. As part of this, we will explore innovative ways of integrating health, disability and employment support in Scotland, to ensure that people can find their way quickly to the tailored, person-centred support they need.
34. We will improve the employment prospects of disabled people, through newly devolved Scottish employability programmes. In April 2017 we will introduce a one year transitional service for disabled people to provide continuity of service for those who need it most. Called 'Work First Scotland', it will deliver employment support for up to 3,300 disabled people. From April 2018, a new devolved programme will take a voluntary and person-led approach to ensure that disabled people are offered support which is appropriate and built upon guaranteed service expectations from providers. Disabled people engaging with the programme will receive high-quality pre-employment support which identifies and develops their strengths and assets while focusing on sustainable employment outcomes. Through the commissioning of this programme in 2017, we will ensure that appropriate specialist provision is in place to deliver these ambitions.
35. Disabled young people will be supported through the Developing the Young Workforce Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy. In partnership with local authorities, colleges, employers and Skills Development Scotland, the focus of the Strategy will be on removing barriers to open up the range of opportunities for young people and prepare them for employment are aligned with labour market opportunities.
36. We will remove the barriers that have previously prevented young disabled people entering Modern Apprenticeships ( MA), through the implementation of The Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland . The five-year plan includes specific improvement targets for MA participation by disabled people, including part-time and flexible engagement, to be achieved by 2021 and Skills Development Scotland will report on these annually.
37. Effective immediately, we will provide young disabled people with the highest level of Modern Apprenticeship funding for their chosen MA Framework until the age of 30.
'As an equal opportunity employer we welcome applications from disabled people as our workforce should be a reflection of the diverse range of customers we serve. We have always found that our disabled employees add as much value as any of our employees and by making a few practical adjustments can easily accommodate any specific needs they may have.'
HR Manager, CMS Windows Ltd
38. For the first time, from April 2017, Scottish public authorities will publish information on equal pay policy and occupational segregation for disabled people as part of the public sector equality duty.
39. Building on a pilot programme being delivered by SCVO and Inclusion Scotland in 2016-17, we will deliver a disability internship programme, providing disabled people with 120 employment opportunities in the third and public sectors and in politics, over the period 2017-2021.
40. A two-year NHS internship programme for disabled graduates will be delivered in partnership with NHSScotland and the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living Equality Academy from 2016-2018. We are undertaking ongoing evaluation with disabled people to develop options for the longer term.
41. A Learning Disability Employment Programme will be delivered by NHSScotland in 2017 with tools and guidance to support Health Boards to increase the number of people with learning disabilities employed by them.
42. The Scottish Business Pledge and other employer networks will be used to raise awareness of the skills and capacity of the disabled workforce and their positive impact on company productivity and profitability.
43. We will continue to promote the Supported Employment Framework and model for disabled people to learn on the job with support from colleagues and a job coach. We will require providers of future employment services to offer a diverse menu of options including supported employment.
44. We are backing supported businesses to increase their sustainability particularly through procurement, coordinated business support, and business engagement. Scottish Government ( SG) and our enterprise agencies will be working with supported businesses in identifying areas of support that could be accessed to help them flourish and become more sustainable.
45. Social enterprise demonstrates a more inclusive way of doing business, by promoting equality and tackling discrimination. In December 2016, we will publish a 10-year Social Enterprise Strategy which will raise this ambition even higher, providing a framework for action planning in 2017. In the first of these action plans we will agree measures to stimulate pre-start activity, increasing the number of disabled social entrepreneurs, and explore creative ways to enable Scotland's social enterprises to employ more disabled people, including the use of targeted wage incentives.
46. We will stimulate more inclusive pre-start activity for social enterprise and work with partners to increase the number of disabled people establishing micro and social enterprises.
47. We will provide funding during the current parliamentary session to enable more disabled people to volunteer and increase the numbers of disabled people taking up volunteering opportunities. In most cases, taking up a volunteering opportunity will not have an impact on disabled people's entitlements to benefits but we will work with the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) and key stakeholders to ensure that this is better understood by disabled people and others.
48. The 'Carer Positive' scheme complements the Fair Work agenda by encouraging organisations in Scotland to have fair and flexible working practices for employees who are also unpaid carers, and to help ensure that carers can return to and remain in work alongside their caring role. We will increase the use of Carer Positive so that more employers sign up to the scheme.
49. We will hold a major congress on disability, employment and the workplace and will engage with partners, employers, the Scottish Trades Union Congress ( STUC) and Disabled People's Organisations during 2017 in shaping its focus.
'We strongly believe in, and drive a culture of, fairness, inclusiveness and respect throughout our organisation. One of the ways that shows itself in practice is the practical support we offer our disabled employees including those who become disabled. That includes making changes in the workplace so they can continue in the job, and offering support from occupational health, medical and mental health professionals. This is the right thing to do and works for us as employers, giving us an exemplary retention and productivity record.'
Commercial Director, Barr Environmental Ltd
Over this parliamentary term, we will take on new powers over some areas of social security. We will take into account the responses to our consultation and engagement activities on building a new social security system for Scotland. These will be used to take forward areas of improvement in our system so it works for disabled people. As a start we have made the following commitments:
50. With our new powers we will establish a social security system that treats people with dignity and respect while applying for, being assessed for, and receiving disability benefits. All of the engagement the Scottish social security system has with those applying for benefits will embody this approach, including communications, accessibility and in appealing decisions.
51. We will introduce a Social Security Bill during the first year of this Parliament, laying the foundations for a Scottish social security system that treats people with disabilities with dignity and respect.
52. We will maintain disability benefits and ensure they are not means tested.
53. We will provide information in a range of accessible formats to help people understand the system to guarantee that disabled people are not disadvantaged by communication barriers.
54. We will set up Social Security Experience Panels to involve at least 2,000 people who have recent experience of receiving benefits to help to design and test the new system to ensure it works for them. When we set out our guiding principles for social security, we said that we would put the user experience first, and that our system would be designed with and for the people of Scotland. We are committed to making the Experience Panels accessible, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to take part.
55. A Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group will be set up to provide recommendations and guidance on aspects of assessments including how often they should be. It will also look at eligibility criteria, as well as longer-term and lifetime awards.
56. We are committed to using our new powers under the Scotland Act to effectively abolish the bedroom tax, and in the interim we will continue to provide funding to fully mitigate its impact; supporting over 70,000 households, an estimated 80% of which contain at least one disabled adult.
57. We will extend winter fuel payments to families with severely disabled children by 2020.
58. We will increase Carer's Allowance so that it is paid at the same level as Jobseeker's Allowance, an 18% increase which will see eligible carers receive around £600 more each year.
59. We will increase Carer's Allowance for those looking after more than one disabled child and we are working with carers and carer organisations to consider a change to the eligibility criteria for Carer's Allowance to better meet the needs and aspirations of Scottish carers.
60. We are working with young carers' organisations to consider the introduction of a Young Carer's Allowance as part of a package to provide extra support for young people with significant caring responsibilities.
61. We will continue to invest in the Family Fund to provide direct grants to low income families with severely disabled children to assist with a wide range of needs from essential support equipment, to computers, white goods and family breaks.
Social security is a hand up - not a hand out. It should provide the basis from which we can all participate and contribute to society but when you're treated like a scrounger and benefit cheat, it knocks your confidence and wears away your self-esteem. Disability hate crime has sky-rocketed in the last few years, as we've been stigmatised and demonised by UK politicians and much of the media. This Disability Plan, together with the new social security system is a chance to put right some of the wrongs and treat people better.
Disabled person, member and campaigner, Purple Poncho Players