Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Disability Evidence Review

This evidence review was prepared to support the production of the Scottish Government's Equality Outcomes, with regard to disability.

1 Introduction

Purpose of this document

1.1 This paper is one of a series written to inform the development of equality outcomes for the Scottish Government. Guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) states that a range of relevant evidence relating to equality groups and communities should be used to help set equality outcomes that are likely to make the biggest difference in tackling inequalities.

1.2 The EHRC suggests the following criteria for selecting equality outcomes:

  • Scale - how many people are affected by the issue and how does the issue impact on their life chances?
  • Severity - does the issue present a risk to equality of opportunity for particular protected groups? Is it a significant barrier to opportunity or freedom?
  • Concern - do equality groups and communities see it as a significant issue?
  • Impact - is the problem persistent or getting worse? What is the potential for improving life chances? Is the problem sensitive to public intervention?
  • Remit - are you able to address the issue given your remit?

1.3 This series of papers provides evidence for some of the questions listed above - in particular, on the scale and severity of issues facing equality groups. It is intended that this evidence will feed into a process of engagement with equality groups and communities, to help develop the most relevant equality outcomes.

1.4 These papers seek to identify, very briefly, key facts and evidence gaps for the equalities groups in policy areas including: education, employment, poverty, housing, transport, hate crime, justice, public appointments, health, social care, sport, and culture.

Key facts

1.5 Education: Disabled people report that transport, attitudes of others and health conditions are barriers to learning. Leavers from publicly funded secondary schools with additional support needs in 2009/10 were less likely to enter positive destinations on leaving school than leavers without. There are proportionately more disabled people in Further Education than Higher Education in Scotland. Disabled people are less likely to have a degree and more likely to have no qualifications than non-disabled people, but disabled students are just as likely to do well as students without disabilities.

1.6 Employment: Disabled people experience lower rates of employment and lower pay than non-disabled people, although the rate of employment for disabled people has increased. Employment rates vary considerably by impairment, with people with depression and learning disabilities the least likely to be in employment. Disabled people report a lack of confidence and the attitudes of employers as barriers to employment, and report flexible working hours, changes to their work area and building modifications as factors enabling them to work.

1.7 Poverty: People who live with a disabled adult in their family are more likely to be in relative poverty than those who do not; this gap narrowed in 2009/10, but widened again in 2010/11. The Department for Work and Pensions expects the introduction of the Universal Credit to improve the incentives to work for disabled people, although half of the families that lose out from the Benefits Cap are expected to include a disabled person.

1.8 Housing: Disabled people are more likely to be living in the social rented sector than non-disabled people, and are more likely to face barriers getting into rooms in their own home. Homeless applications from disabled people rose between 1992 and 2002, and have remained stable since then. Campaign groups expect disabled people to fall foul of the under-occupancy rules for housing benefits, because of barriers to finding alternative accommodation.

1.9 Transport: In much of the survey evidence reviewed, the reported barriers to using public transport focus more strongly on cost and availability, than on difficulties resulting directly from disability. Detailed information on hindrances to using public transport is available from passenger consultations.

1.10 Hate crime: Disabled people, including women and children, are more likely to suffer abuse than non-disabled people. Scottish people are generally supportive of positive action towards disabled people, except in recruitment where it is perceived as unfair on other applicants.

1.11 Justice: A smaller proportion of disabled people have confidence in the criminal justice system than people without disabilities. People with communication support needs struggle to engage with the judicial process, and are disproportionately represented among the prison population.

1.12 Public appointments: On average, the number of applications from disabled people was proportionate to the number of disabled people in the working-age population, but the number appointed fell short of this. However, special interest boards can attract far higher proportions of disabled applicants.

1.13 Health: Disabled people have poorer self-reported health, and a higher incidence of mental ill-health, than people without disabilities. People with impairments including hearing impairments, visual impairments and learning difficulties report barriers to accessing healthcare, and negative experiences of receiving healthcare. This could be improved by training healthcare staff to better understand communication support needs.

1.14 Social care: Over a quarter of home-care clients have physical disabilities. The number of residential care places for clients with physical or learning disabilities has fallen since 2000, and the number of people with physical or learning disabilities being cared for at home has risen over the same period. The majority of disabled people feel that their needs for care are being met, whether formally or informally.

1.15 Sport: Disabled children take part in sport, in school and in after-school clubs, less often than children without disabilities. A smaller proportion of disabled adults undertake recommended amounts of physical activity than adults without disabilities. Reported barriers to participation in sport include self-consciousness, a lack of appropriate facilities, and the attitudes of others.

1.16 Culture: Disabled adults are less likely to engage with or participate in cultural events and activities than adults without disabilities, except for craft based activities. Barriers to increased participation include cost, transport, limited availability of audio-description, and low expectations.

Gaps in the data

1.17 Data collection on education and disability in Scotland is limited, as it is focused on pupils' additional support needs - of which disability forms a part but is not the whole picture.

1.18 Whilst surveys give quantitative data for rates of employment, more qualitative data could help to deepen our understanding of barriers to and enablers for employment.

1.19 Some of the data sources reported for transport are for the UK and are not specific to Scotland, and so may understate issues that are specific to geographical remoteness.

1.20 It is thought that incidences of hate crime against disabled people may be under-reported.

1.21 The data for numbers of people with communication support needs are rough estimates only.


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