A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: progress report 2019

This is a report of progress made by the Scottish Government since A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People was published in December 2016.

Ambition 2: Decent Incomes and Fairer Working Lives

The second ambition of the action plan is to achieve decent incomes and fairer working lives for disabled people in Scotland. This means that disabled people are able to participate fully in volunteering, training, education and paid employment enabling their talents 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.

Improving the Participation of Disabled People in Paid Work

The Scottish Government is focused on creating a more successful Scotland with opportunities for all. In 2018, the Scottish Government hosted a conference with employers to focus on options for collaborative working between disabled people's organisations, the public sector and the private sector to support the employment of disabled people.

Subsequently, the A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan was published in December 2018. In 2016, the baseline year for the Action Plan, the employment rate for disabled people was 42.8%, compared to 80.2% for non-disabled people. This amounts to an employment gap of 37.4%, which the action plan commits to halving by 2038.[30]

The plan is structured around 3 key themes: Supporting employers to recruit and retain disabled people; supporting disabled people to enter employment; and supporting young disabled people and transitions. Key actions contained in the plan include:

  • Investing up to £500,000 in testing an access to work-style scheme to support developments amongst employers to reduce the barriers to disabled people entering work
  • A pilot fund of £6 million to co-produce a strategy to address employment barriers for disabled parents in areas of high child poverty
  • £1 million to establish a new Public Social Partnership to address the barriers that employers face in hiring and retaining disabled people.

Employability Services

In 2015, Scottish Government undertook public consultation to develop a new approach to delivering employment support services. The consultation response 'Creating a Fairer Scotland: A new future for employability support in Scotland'[31] laid the foundation for the design of new services that were devolved to Scotland in 2017, having previously been delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) across the UK. A year of transitional services followed, during which Scottish Government worked with Service Providers and partners to successfully implement Work First Scotland (WFS) and Work Able Scotland (WAS)[32].

Beginning in April 2017, the Scottish Government has used new powers to better align employability services in Scotland focusing on supporting those who need the most help, reducing inequality and ensuring that the principle of fairness, dignity and response are at the heart of its approach. Participation in the Scottish Government's employability services is voluntary.

Fair Start Scotland

In April 2018 the Scottish Government introduced Fair Start Scotland (FSS) which aims to support a minimum of 38,000 participants in their journeys into and toward work over a three year referral period. Work Able Scotland and Work First Scotland provided 12 month transitional employability support ahead of the introduction of FSS in April 2018. Referrals for both transitional services stopped in March 2018.

FSS prioritises immediate entry for disabled individuals as defined under the Equality Act 2010. In the first year of its operation (up to 29th March 2019), 10,063 people have joined, 64% of whom reported having a long-term health condition.[33] Further information on how FSS is supporting disabled people will continue to be published regularly. FSS also continues to promote the Supported Employment Framework to support disabled people in learning on the job with support from colleagues and a job coach.

A progress report published in November 2019 found that many of those surveyed were very positive about the support they received. In total, 92% felt they were treated with dignity and respect and this did not differ by gender, ethnicity or presence of a health condition. Around four fifths felt they had choices about the type of support that they received, feeling that it took account of their individual needs, and 78% felt the service offered support to improve their general of life and wellbeing.[34]

Other Employment Support

The Scottish Government also provides funding to a number of employability programmes aimed at helping young people facing barriers to employment to learn new skills and ultimately find work. Although not aimed specifically at disabled young people, these programmes do help many young disabled people to access the support they need to undertake relevant training for work. For example, in 2018-19 we provided £6.1 million to the Community Jobs Scotland programme to create 700 in-work training opportunities for young people and 378 of the young people involved in the programme reported as having a disability.

Health & Work Support Pilot

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting people to overcome barriers to staying in employment. Another project that has developed via the action plan is the Health & Work Support Pilot, which was launched in June 2018. This development is funded by both the UK and Scottish governments, and is a voluntary programme that provides a single point of contact and support for those at risk of falling out of work – or have already done so – due to a disability and/or health conditions. It also provides support to employers with general guidance and specific advice on a range of health and work issues.[35]

A detailed evaluation is currently being completed to better understand the impact of the service and how it can inform future discussions regarding health and work services in Scotland and the UK. More specifically, it will focus on:

  • The service delivery processes underpinning the pilot. Including the successes, challenges and complexities of integrating health and work services.
  • The impact of the pilot on health and employment outcomes.
  • The experience of people using and delivering the services within the pilot.

An interim report is due in summer 2020 and the final evaluation will be complete in spring 2021. Three statistical summaries have been published in 2019. The most recent can be found here.

Developing the Young Workforce

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) reports progress across 12 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), of which one is 'Increase the employment rate for disabled young people to the population average by 2021'[36]. The employment rate for disabled people aged 16-24 has fluctuated since 2014 when it was 35.2%, to a peak of 43.2% in 2017. It has since decreased, to 35.8% in 2018.[37] Among the population as a whole, the youth employment rate (population average) was 57.2% in 2018.[38] The youth employment rate has consistently remained higher than the employment rate for young disabled people - there is currently a gap of 21.4 percentage points between the young disabled employment rate and the youth employment rate (population average). Between 2014 and 2018, this gap increased by 3.3 percentage points.

For 2019/20, the Scottish Government has agreed specific measures within the National Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the activity of 21 Regional DYW Groups to support disabled young people. The KPIs specify activity in relation to Additional Support Needs (ASN) Schools and Units and the young people who attend them. In addition, the 21 Regional Groups are engaged in a wide variety of activities, which include actions with employers to present vocational pathways to disabled young people.

The programme-wide evaluation of DYW will assess the extent to which these activities – and other DYW activities taking place at schools, colleges, with Apprenticeships and with employers – have contributed to an improvement in opportunities and outcomes for young disabled people, and what barriers remain.

As part of this evaluation, in Spring 2019, a forum of young disabled people provided Scottish Government researchers with their views on what is working well and less well with regards to work placements, vocational qualifications, training and Apprenticeships, and employment. Their views formed the basis for a set of recommendations that have been discussed with policy teams in relevant areas – the evaluation will consider the extent to which relevant recommendations have been engaged with and implemented.

Designing the Scottish Social Security Agency

The Scottish Government is committed to creating an accessible, fair and responsive social security system for disabled people. These goals have underpinned the development of a new social security agency (Social Security Scotland), created via the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. The Act sets out the eight underlying principles underpinning the social security system. These emphasise social security as an investment in the people of Scotland and a human right, with respect for the dignity of individuals at the heart of the system. Social Security Scotland began delivering benefits in 2018, the first of which being the Best Start Grant: Pregnancy and Baby Payment. The Scottish Government will take over executive competency for delivery of the current reserved disability benefits in April 2020 and will open the first new benefit, Disability Assistance for Children and Young People in Summer 2020. Transfer of existing cases from DWP to Social Security Scotland will occur at a later date, with our main priority being the safe and secure transition of benefits from the UK to Scotland. We are designing an appropriate framework to evaluate the impact of Disability Assistance as they are rolled out, using a combination of routine data and bespoke projects.

The Disability Assistance policy approach that the Scottish Government is developing has been established in conjunction with users of the system via the Experience Panels (see next paragraph); the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group[39] (DACBEAG) as well as the Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group, established in 2016, to inform and influence the development of policy options relating to disability and ill health social security benefits. This group comprises members who attend as representatives of their organisation/profession (including representatives of Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland, University of Glasgow, Child Poverty Action Group, and National Rural Mental Health Forum). A public consultation was also launched in March 2019, closing in late May 2019. It received 263 responses in total from individuals and organisations representing disabled people. The analysis and official response to the consultation are available on the Scottish Government's website.[40]

User experience panels are particularly important in developing Social Security Scotland and the services it offers. Beginning in 2017, the experience panels are comprised of over 2,400 individuals with lived experience of benefits that are coming to Scotland. Many of these individuals are disabled or have long-term health conditions and provide valuable feedback as we continue to develop the policy and design of Disability Assistance to best meet the needs of the people of Scotland.

Additional Developments

  • Child Winter Heating Assistance (CWHA) for families with children who qualify for the highest rate of the care component of Disability Assistance will be provided by winter 2020.
  • In the period 2015/16-2017/18, the Scottish Government has allocated £190 million for Discretionary Housing Payments for the purpose of mitigating the 'bedroom tax'.[41]
  • A two-year NHS internship programme concerned with providing opportunities to disabled young people is underway.
  • From 2017, Scottish public authorities have published information on equal pay policy and occupational segregation for disabled people as part of the public sector equality duty.
  • In December 2015, Skills Development Scotland began implementation of a five-year Apprenticeship Equalities Action Plan, with specific improvement targets for the participation of disabled people. The number of new Modern Apprenticeship starts self-declaring an impairment, health condition or learning difficulty has continued to increase from the baseline of 8.6% in 2016-17, to 11.3% in 2017-18 and 14.1% in 2018-19.[42]
  • The Scottish Government Internship Programme for Disabled People, administered by Inclusion Scotland, committed to place 120 people by 2021 and has placed 68 so far.

Further Reading

  • Fair Start Scotland and Work First Scotland, Evaluation of quarters 1 and 2, 2018. Available here.
  • Experience panels, personal independence payments, available here.
  • Experience Panels, award duration and automatic entitlements. Available here.
  • Information on Carer Positive can be found here: http://www.carerpositive.org/


Email: nicole.ronald@gov.scot

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