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 3: Places That Are Accessible to Everyone

The third ambition of the action plan is to ensure that disabled people can live life to the full in homes and communities across Scotland, with housing and transport and the wider physical and cultural environment designed and adapted to enable disabled people to participate as full and equal citizens.

In the Scotland we want:

  • Greater and more meaningful involvement by disabled people in designing policies and services.
  • Disabled people to benefit from increased availability of affordable and accessible housing to support people to continue to live independent lives.
  • Increased availability of accessible and inclusive transport and services.
  • Increased awareness of the additional barriers living in rural or remote areas can bring for disabled people.

Accessible Housing

The Scottish Government's ambition is that everyone in Scotland should live in high quality, energy efficient homes that are affordable and that meet their needs, including accessibility. Disabled people can sometimes face considerable barriers in ensuring that they have appropriate housing. Local Authorities as the strategic housing authority are best placed to assess housing needs within their area and setting out in the Local Housing Strategy and Strategic Housing Investment Plans how these requirements will be met.

We have recently published new practical guidance for local authorities that will support the delivery of more wheelchair accessible housing. The guidance creates a requirement for targets to be set across all tenures which local authorities will report annually on progress. We are currently refreshing the Local Housing Strategy guidance which will provide further advice which we expect to publish later this year.

Ministers have made it clear to local authorities and housing associations that grant subsidy arrangements for the Affordable Housing Supply Programme should not be a barrier that prevents specialist housing identified by local authorities as a priority from being built. Officials discuss grant subsidy arrangements with councils on a regular basis as part of overall discussions on the Affordable Housing Supply Programme. We are building homes to be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of people as they change over time and latest available statistics show that 99% of homes built by housing associations and councils in 2017-18 met the Housing for Varying Needs Standards. We have recently started work to undertake a review of the Housing for Varying Needs design guide.

In addition, the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 introduced changes to National Planning Framework and introduced new outcomes which include meeting the housing needs of people living in Scotland including, in particular, the housing needs for older people and disabled people. Our Building Regulations for accessibility in mass-market new homes (new housing for sale) are the best in the UK. The guidance which supports the Scottish standards is founded on most of the principles of Lifetime Homes Design Standard and Housing for Varying Needs. The 2018-19 Programme for Government included a major commitment to develop our vision for housing in Scotland to 2040. This will include work on accessibility standards as well as on energy efficiency, quality and safety standards.

Since the integration of health and social care, Integration Joint Boards (IJBs) are responsible for the planning and delivery of adaptations using budgets set and delegated from local authorities. IJBs are also responsible for reviewing and developing services to improve outcomes for people who require adaptations. Progress has been made by some IJBs in reviewing and planning adaptations services but there is clearly more work to be done. To support we are reviewing the existing statutory guidance on adaptations. We intend to issue revised and updated guidance to IJBs later this financial year.

We have developed regulations, under section 37 of the Equality Act 2010 that will give disabled people the right to make necessary, reasonable adaptations to common areas. The creation of this right will be a first within the UK. Regulations that will create a right for disabled people to make reasonable adjustments to common parts were laid before Parliament on 6 December and will come into effect early in 2020. Disabled people will need to get a simple majority of other owners to agree to the work. Other owners will be unable to unreasonably withhold consent. If not agreement can be reached then the views of a Sheriff can be sought and their decision will be final.

As mentioned above, the Scottish Government is planning, together with stakeholders and communities across Scotland, how we want our homes and communities to look and feel by 2040. This new approach will encompass the whole housing system. We want housing to 2040 to be a lasting legacy that is not just about new homes, but that takes into account the people, place, environment and communities in which our homes, both new and old, are located.

In developing policy here, we have been engaging extensively with a variety of stakeholders, including local government, businesses, the third sector, home owners, tenants and others to help shape a draft vision and principles for 2040. Stakeholder engagement has also involved Disabled People's Organisations. There will be a formal public consultation during autumn 2019 on the draft vision and principles, together with some policy options for practical steps for how to get there. As part of that, we want to hear from a wide range of people across Scotland, including rural, urban and island communities, old and young people, to help us shape our final vision and route map to 2040, which we are planning to publish in spring 2020.[43]


There is evidence that disabled people face barriers to participation in sport and physical activity. Analysis of the Scottish Health Survey suggests that a lower percentage of disabled people meet the recommendations for physical activity, compared to non-disabled people.

The Active Scotland Outcomes Framework describes Scotland's ambitions for sport and physical activity. The Active Scotland strategy, published in July 2018, commits to ensuring that everyone has opportunities to achieve, irrespective of disability, and seeks to remove barriers to participation by working with equalities groups.[44] It also commits to supporting opportunities for sporting participation and physical activity for people with learning disabilities and autism.

As the national agency for sport, sportscotland aims to ensure that sport is accessible to all, and that people have a positive experience of sport. To help deliver the many benefits of sport to everyone in Scotland, they develop and strengthen partnerships and collaborations across the public, voluntary and private sectors. For example:

  • sportscotland invests in over 50 Scottish governing bodies of sport (SGBs). Many of these organisations develop and deliver specific programmes that support disabled participants to take part in sport at their chosen level.
  • Since 2016-17 sportscotland has invested £2,454,200 in Scottish Disability Sport (SDS), the coordinating body for all sports for people of all ages and abilities with a physical, sensory and learning disability. This investment supports SDS to build an effective organisation, develop disability sport at all levels, and support athletes on the world stage.
  • sportscotland invests £12m per year in local authorities to deliver Active Schools. sportscotland works in partnership with all 32 local authorities to provide more and higher quality opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity before school, during lunchtime and after school, and to develop effective pathways between schools and sports clubs in the local community. Local Active Schools programmes consider pupils with ASN within mainstream schools. In addition, the universal coverage of Active Schools across Scotland, includes ASN schools. In academic year 2017-18, pupils at ASN schools made over 81,000 visits to Active Schools activity.

In August 2017, sportscotland opened the £12 million redeveloped national training centre Inverclyde. Inverclyde is a residential sports training centre designed with inclusivity in mind for disability sport users at all levels. It has improved Scotland's support for disabled athletes in their preparations and helped ensure sport and physical activity is accessible.

The sportscotland institute of sport provides high performance expertise to sports and athletes in Scotland through a range of performance impacting services. In 2017, the institute delivered services to 41 para athletes from 11 sports. In 2018, this increased to a record high of 49 para athletes from 13 sports.

Disabled athletes often face significant challenges above those experienced by non-disabled athletes. In 2017, the institute created the Para Initiative to improve opportunities for para athletes and enable more para athletes to progress in performance sport. Working alongside key SGBs and SDS, the initiative aims to:

  • Increase the quantity and sporting attainment of para athletes within the Scottish para sport system
  • Develop a world class workforce to support the Scottish para sport system
  • Provide environments that attract and develop para athletes

In recent years, Scottish athletes continued to achieve success on the world stage. Seven of the 17 athletes selected for the Paralympics GB 2018 Winter Paralympic Team were Scottish. 18 para-athletes competed for Team Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning three medals, making it the most successful ever away Commonwealth Games.[45].


We believe in the absolute rights of disabled people to participate as full and equal citizens; we know that accessible travel is key to enabling this. Our vision is that all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens.

At present, the Scottish Government invests over £210 million per year in the National Concessionary Travel Scheme, which includes free bus travel for eligible disabled people. There is also a project of refurbishing new and existing trains to improve wheelchair access and provide accessible toilets, and £19 million has been spent in the last five years to make stations on the Scottish railway network step-free. The Accessible Travel Hub has been developed, which provides information on accessible travel.[46]

In 2016, the Scottish Government published 'Going Further', a 10 year framework for improving the accessibility of travel. In 2019, Transport Scotland published their first Annual Delivery Plan for Scotland's Accessible Travel Framework.[47] The eight priorities they intend to achieve by 2019/20 are:

  • Reduce the advance notice requirement for accessible train travel to one hour (in a broader context where this has declined from four to two hours already).
  • In a context where six of the seven largest Scottish airports are ranked as very good, this ranking will be achieved by all.
  • Improving access to bus information via Traveline and increasing bus patronage across Scotland, while improving accessibility and passenger assistance at local bus stations and travel hubs.
  • Ensuring pathways are clear by promoting accessible and inclusive street design and restricting parking on pavements.
  • Developing improved guidance for signage, wayfinding and information.
  • Issuing guidance on the improvement of taxi services for disabled people.
  • Increasing use of the Thistle card, which advises the driver or conductor of public transport about an individual's disability and the help they may require.
  • Creating a Hate Crime Charter to be displayed on public transport.

The Hate Crime Charter will be piloted throughout 2019 and early in 2020. Training for transport operators will be considered, with commitments to reporting, recording and improving knowledge on the issue, in a context where it is widely acknowledged that 97% of hate on the transport system goes unreported.

In May 2018, Transport Scotland published their analysis of responses to their consultation on improving parking in Scotland.[48] Amongst the responses, participants emphasised the problem of using guide dogs or wheelchairs in the context of cars parked on dropped kerbs. There was also considerable concern about the misuse of disabled people's parking spaces, and widespread disagreement about whether disabled person's parking places are being enforced.

The Scottish Government undertook a review of the Disabled Persons Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009 (DPPPA) and the then Minister for Transport and the Islands appeared before Local Government and Communities Committee regarding post legislative scrutiny. We continue to work with stakeholders to address the items raised by the Committee including scope for legislative changes to the DPPPA to ensure better enforcement can be achieved.

Informed by the consultation on parking and ongoing stakeholder engagement, the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 provisions provide a number of steps to improve outcomes for disabled people. The restrictions on double parking, pavement parking and parking at dropped kerbs intend to improve accessibility for disabled people. In addition, improvements to bus services are likely to improve disabled people's ability to travel, access employment and potential reduce social isolation by increasing the accessibility of transport.[49]

Cultural strategy

The Scottish Government support equal opportunities for people across Scotland to lead a cultural life of their choice; with all aspects of cultural engagement – formal and informal - available to them. Disability can impact individuals and communities' ability to access and participate in culture and tackling this must be a priority for the culture sector in Scotland.

At present, a new cultural strategy is being developed in Scotland. A draft cultural strategy for Scotland was published in 2018 for consultation, with an analysis of the consultation responses published in January 2019.[50] The strategy emphasises that it will engage with the exclusion of, among other groups, disabled people and seek to encourage cultural engagement among those who do not currently participate in it.[51] In July 2018, Visit Scotland published a guide on inclusive events, providing guidance on how to ensure that events are accessible to everyone.[52]

Accessible Tourism

The Scottish Government works closely with the tourism sector and its agencies, to ensure that tourism is for everyone. VisitScotland manages an Inclusive Tourism Engagement Programme aimed at tourism businesses. The programme's strategic objective is focused on raising awareness among businesses of the benefits of being inclusive and helping them make changes to benefit from this growing market.

VisitScotland created an accessibility guide tool in 2017 to help businesses communicate relevant access information about their business. In developing its toolkit and advice, VisitScotland has worked with Euan's Guide, Disabled Go, and Capability Scotland, and has a steering group that includes relevant charities and key industry stake-holders. In October 2019 a guide on how to be Dementia Friendly will be launched, and all guides are available free of charge on their dedicated corporate industry website. They also support and work with community and industry groups to develop 'Inclusive Tourism Friendly Destinations' and create promotions and visitor information which inspire and reassure different consumer groups. Projects are currently underway in Glasgow, St Andrews, Callander and Cairngorm National Park.

In 2016 VisitScotland partnered for the first time with the Family Holiday Association (FHA), a national charity that has been delivering breaks for struggling families for almost 40 years. Since then more than 80 travel industry partners have donated accommodation, transport or tickets for attractions and activities. Over 1,000 families including over 2,300 children have been helped to take a short break somewhere in Scotland. For many, it is their first ever holiday. ScotSpirit Breaks has been shortlisted twice in the Third Sector Partnership category at the Scottish Public Service Awards, in both 2017 and 2018.

Further Reading

  • EHRC (2018) Housing and disabled people: Britain's hidden crisis. Available here.
  • Transport Scotland (2019) Scotland's Accessible Travel Framework: Our Delivery Plan for 2019-20. Available here.
  • Scottish Government (2018) Improving Parking in Scotland: Consultation Analysis Report. Available here.


Email: nicole.ronald@gov.scot

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