Scotland's Wellbeing: national outcomes for disabled people

Analysis of the National Performance Framework (NPF) outcome indicators from the perspective of disability.

Executive Summary

This report builds on a recent Scottish Government Wellbeing baseline report for the revised National Performance Framework. The Wellbeing Report gave an overview of inequalities of outcomes but did not go into detail for every dimension of inequality. This report views the NPF through the lens of one protected characteristic, that of disability, and considers the range of outcomes and indicators.

Disability is defined in the Equality Act 2010 as a long-lasting health condition that limits daily activity. This two stage definition is used in most large scale surveys in Scotland. In 2017, the Scottish Health Survey estimated that 32% of adults and 10% of children were disabled. 

The NPF contains 11 outcomes which are measured by 81 indicators; 15 of which are still under development and 20 of which relate to national level data or structures rather than individuals. 

The 15 new indicators will cover the following areas: 

  • Four in the Communities outcome to measure social capital and community cohesion. These indicators will be individual and will include breakdowns to show if and how social capital and cohesion varies for disabled people.
  • Four in the Education outcome to measure educational attainment; confidence of children and young people; resilience of children and young people and engagement in extra-curricular activities. Again, understanding these indicators for the range of protected characteristics will be important.  
  • Contractually secure work in the Employment outcome. This is in early stages of development but understanding inequalities of outcome will be important.  
  • Public services treat people with dignity and respect in the Human Rights outcome. Again this is in early stages of development but understanding who isn’t treated with dignity and respect will be critical. 
  • Five new indicators in the International outcome, of which at least three will not be individual indicators. The two remaining ‘a positive experience for people coming to Scotland’ and ‘Scotland’s population’ are more likely to be individual and consideration of the relevance of the indicator for disabled people will be important. 

From the remaining 46 NPF indicators, eight cannot provide a breakdown by the disability protected characteristic. These are:

  • Child Social and physical development. This indicator is under review from Public Health Scotland but alternative indicators were identified in the report from Growing Up in Scotland survey.  
  • People working in the arts and cultural economy who are disabled – there is limited data on this matter although some evidence suggests that the diversity of the economy could be a matter of concern. 
  • Entrepreneurial activity – there is limited data on the number of disabled entrepreneurs or how this has changed over time. 
  • Employees on the living wage – the data used in Scotland to analyse wage levels does not provide this breakdown. UK data is available. 
  • Pay gap - the data used in Scotland to analyse pay does not provide this breakdown. UK data is available.
  • Premature mortality – this data is not currently available with a breakdown by disability status. Some other limited evidence is identified. 
  • Quality of care experience from their GP – again this data is not currently available with a breakdown by disability status and other sources were limited and not specific to Scotland. 
  • Cost of living – this data is not currently available with a disability breakdown although other evidence has been identified around costs of living for disabled people. 

Across the outcomes for which we have data, a considerable number of indicators suggest that disabled people face some barriers in fully participating in Scottish society. For example:

  • There is a higher prevalence of poverty, food insecurity and material deprivation among disabled adults and children.
  • There are lower rates of employment and economic activity among disabled people alongside evidence of a disability pay gap.
  • There is lower mental wellbeing among disabled adults along with higher engagement in health risk behaviours, and higher rates of difficulties among disabled children. 
  • Disabled people were more likely to be worried about a range of crimes and there are potentially some concerning trends in offline and online hate crime at a UK level. 
  • There are lower rates of cultural participation and attendance among disabled people along with lower rates of access to green (parks, woods and countryside) and blue (rivers, lochs, coasts) space and visits to the outdoors. 
  • A minority of disabled young people experience lower educational attainment and lack of positive destinations after school but this is more prevalent among disabled than non-disabled children.  

Analysts in the government will continue to mine data wherever possible and the increased use and linkage of administrative data should help in this regard. However, there will continue to be aspects of outcome performance that can best be understood by qualitative research or by engaging with disability stakeholders and disabled people. 

The progress of actions and the evaluation of ‘A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People’ including the major summit in 2020 will provide good opportunities for this conversation to continue. 



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