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 5: Active Participation

The fifth ambition underpinning the action plan is for active participation.

This means, specifically, that disabled people participate as active citizens in all aspects of daily and public life in Scotland. Information and communication is accessible and inclusive; barriers experienced by disabled people including negative attitudes, stigma and discrimination, are understood and addressed and disabled people are involved in shaping their lives and the decisions that impact upon them. Social isolation is reduced for disabled people.

In the Scotland we want:

  • Disabled people to be empowered through peer support and learning and development opportunities to participate fully as active citizens.
  • Increased understanding of disabled people's needs throughout civic society.
  • Communication to be accessible to, and inclusive of, all.
  • The barriers facing disabled people to be known, understood and addressed.
  • Disabled people to have access to relationships and connections which support them, and increased resilience to cope with challenges.

Inclusive Participatory Budgeting

It is essential to ensure that disabled people are able to participate fully in emerging forms of participatory governance. The Scottish Government has recently developed a participatory budgeting process, which provide communities with decision making power over a portion of their local budget. Overall, this has been a successful initiative, with 1,713 projects voted on by 20,408 people and £3,431,329 distributed using participatory budgeting in 2017/18.[63] The Scottish Government's work with Glasgow Disability Alliance resulted in GDA being commissioned by Glasgow City Council to support disabled people in four participatory budgeting pilots in Glasgow

In order to ensure that this is an inclusive process, research has been commissioned from the Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) to explore disabled people's involvement in the process. This research, published in 2018, identified a range of barriers faced by disabled people in participating in the process.[64] These included physical, cultural and support related barriers, and provided a range of recommendations to address these. The GDA have supported over 1,000 disabled people to contribute over 8,000 hours to develop an equalities approach to participatory budgeting in Glasgow.[65]

Access to Elected Office Fund

It is essential that any barriers to disabled people's participation in the electoral process are removed. Inclusion Scotland advocated for the Access to Elected Office Fund and the Scottish Government agreed to run a pilot. The Fund provided assistance to candidates in the 2017 Scottish Local Authority elections. During the pilot, 39 disabled candidates were supported and 15 disabled people were elected as councillors.[66]

Feedback has indicated that 100% felt "very supported" by the delivery team and 58% agreed that the fund mostly reduced the barriers they face seeking selection. Of these, 8% said it had "completely" removed barriers, while 34% said it had removed "some" barriers.[67] Following the success of this pilot, the fund will be continued for the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Participation in Decision Making : Ministerial Public Appointments

Scottish Government have set an Equality Outcome that Ministerial public appointments are more diverse reflecting broadly the general population by 2021.[68] In a context where disabled people comprise 19.6% of the population, 6.9% of Scotland's board members were disabled at the end of 2018. In 2018 disabled people comprised 4% of the chairs of said boards. In addition, 9.4% of applications in 2018 came from disabled people, against a target of 15%.[69]

The Public Appointments Team are currently working with Inclusion Scotland to provide mentoring for disabled people who are interested in serving on a Board. Learning from the Mentoring Programme will inform future activities to enthuse disabled people to apply for Public Appointments and support disabled people to be successful in the appointments process.

Strategy for Loneliness and Social Isolation

Scotland aspires to be a country where individuals and communities are more connected and everyone has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships regardless of age, status, circumstances or identity. Social isolation presents a range of challenges to wellbeing, and the barriers facing disabled people may, in some circumstances, increase their risk of social isolation and loneliness.

The National Strategy for tackling loneliness and social isolation was launched in December 2018[70] and will run from 2018 to 2026, subject to progress updates at two year intervals. We have since established a National Implementation Group to help us take action and will publish a delivery plan setting out how we will deliver better outcomes across our communities, including for disabled people. To ensure that our work is informed by the lived experience of disabled people, we have invited Glasgow Disability Alliance to join the National Implementation Group. The main priorities of the strategy concern:

  • Empowering communities and creating shared ownership.
  • Promoting positive attitudes and tackling stigma.
  • Creating opportunities for people to connect.
  • Support infrastructure to foster connections.

This strategy was developed following consultation[71] on a draft published in 2018, which received around 400 responses from individuals and organisations, alongside 17 engagement events across Scotland. The consultation responses, among other things, emphasised the specific groups at risk of isolation and loneliness, included disabled people and older people, emphasising the importance of accessible housing, transport and buildings.

British Sign Language Plan

The Scottish Government wants to make Scotland the best place in the world for British Sign Language (BSL) users to live, work and visit. In 2017, the Scottish Government also launched the first National Action Plan on BSL. With this, the Government sees BSL as a language, moving away from a disability lens. This is the first plan of its kind to be launched in the UK, and includes actions that we will work towards for 2020 including[72]:

  • Starting a programme of work that will allow more pupils to choose to learn BSL in school and working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to develop awards in BSL
  • Researching technological solutions to providing information in BSL in transport hubs such as train stations and airports
  • Working to strengthen the BSL/English interpreting profession through a range of measures, ensuring a strong and skilled pool of BSL/English interpreters are working efficiently in a range of settings across Scotland

The BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 legislation compels public bodies to consult with the BSL community (deaf people) in the development of BSL plans. In 2015, the Scottish Government established a National Advisory Group on BSL to shape priorities and support the creation of the first, and current, BSL National Plan. Over half of this Advisory Group consisted of BSL users. Further, a range of consultations have taken place to date in various forms on the various BSL Plans across Scotland, and we anticipate this activity to continue throughout the lifetime of the Act, particularly in influencing new/revised BSL Plans.

Additional Developments

  • The Scottish Government has maintained funding for the intermediary DPOs it has funded.
  • The One Scotland campaign has emphasised employment, including the 'Get Passed the Awkward' ad campaign, designed to address potential barriers to the inclusion of disabled people in work.[73]
  • A Scottish guide to Service Design has now been published, with a view to informing future service design with an emphasis on inclusive design principles.[74]
  • An inclusive communications hub has been develop, with a view to encouraging the development of inclusive communication.[75]

Further Reading

  • Glasgow Disability Alliance (2018) Participatory Glasgow: Leaving no-one behind. Available here.
  • Scottish Government (2018) A Connected Scotland: Our Strategy for Tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness and Building Stronger Social Connections. Available here.
  • Inclusion Scotland (2017) Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) 2016-17 Pilot Evaluation report. Available here.


Email: nicole.ronald@gov.scot

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