1.1 The Scottish Government's aim
The Scottish Government has a clear aim that disabled people will have the same equality and human rights as non-disabled people. This means that disabled people will have the same freedom, dignity, choice and control over their lives as everyone else, with rights to help and support at home, at work and in the wider community. For many disabled people living in Scotland, there is still a long way to go.
We need to take practical action across all areas of government and all services to making positive change for all disabled people in Scotland.
The UNCRPD is the framework we will be using to deliver this change. We are working hard to build stronger relationships between government policy makers and disabled people so that we will have a better understanding of what disabled people need from our policies.
1.2 What we are doing to tackle inequality and advance disabled people's rights
At the heart of the Scottish approach is our ambition to build a fairer Scotland. Our new activity will build further on the foundations and progress we have already achieved. In this section we give a few examples of work already underway.
Disabled people and young children
- We are supporting disabled children and young people and their families from birth, through school and in to the world of work
The Education (Scotland) Bill introduced to Parliament in 2015 will move forward our commitment to recognise, respect and promote children's and parents' rights, including extending children's rights in existing additional support for learning legislation. It will help us tackle educational inequality and improve educational achievements particularly among Scotland's most disadvantaged children - including disabled children and young people.
The Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) framework aims for all services and agencies working with disabled children to be joined up with a shared understanding of what wellbeing means and the availability of appropriate support. The Children and Young people (Scotland) Act 2014 is part of this approach and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
To enable access to the world of work for disabled young people, we are tackling under representation of young disabled people in the Modern Apprentice Programme and developing and promoting supported employment. An example of this is our partnership with Momentum and Falkirk Council to develop Haven Enterprises Larbert. This provides three supported businesses and the Centre for Training Excellence. We are also funding internship schemes for disabled graduates, providing varied employment opportunities in the third sector and in the Scottish Parliament.
Within the NHS, several Boards are delivering Project Search which is an employability programme for people with learning disabilities - NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Lothian. Project Search is coordinated by the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability.
- We are helping disabled people who are disproportionately affected by welfare changes and cuts
Disabled people already face higher living costs than non-disabled people and are more likely to live in poverty. The United Kingdom Government's welfare cuts and changes are having a disproportionate impact on the lives of disabled people. Tougher criteria for disability benefits, cuts in services and increased service charges mean that disabled people are losing support to participate in society.
We are taking decisive action with the resources and powers that we currently have to help disabled people, such as investing almost £300 million over the period 2013-16 to limit the damaging effects of the cuts and charges being imposed by Westminster. Since 2013, we have provided £90 million to local authorities to mitigate the bedroom tax which disproportionately affects disabled people - an estimated 80% of households affected by the bedroom tax contain a disabled adult.
And since April 2013, the Scottish Welfare Fund has helped more than 150,000 households, providing community care grants to help people to live independently, and crisis grants to people in emergency situations. More than £65 million has been awarded to date, providing a safety net for vulnerable people on low incomes.
Healthcare and Support
We have established a new Scottish Independent Living Fund, which from July 2015 will make payments to all 2900 existing Scottish Fund users. And we have committed an additional funding of £5 million to open up the scheme to new users for the first time in 2015-2016. Other new legislation will make a real difference in improving the provision of services to disabled people including:
- The Social Care (Self Directed Support) Scotland Act 2013 which gives disabled people greater control over the provision of their care and support needs and gives them as much control as they want of their individual budget. The Act and Self Directed Support strategy has been backed by £46.2 million over five years (2011-2015).
- The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill 2014 which will result in more joined-up and seamless health and social care provision, and will ensure that people get the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The full integration of services across Scotland is expected by April 2016.
As a Government we are committed to ensuring that all carers are supported to manage their caring responsibilities with confidence and in good health. The Carers (Scotland) Bill introduced to Parliament in March 2015 will ensure better and more consistent support for carers and young carers so that they can continue to care, if they so wish, in better health and to have a life alongside caring.
Access to transport and housing
- We are taking action to remove barriers and improve access to housing and transport
The freedom of many disabled people living in Scotland is often restricted by buildings and transport systems which are difficult to access. Housing adaptations make a vital contribution to supporting disabled people and older people to live safely, comfortably and independently at home. We have committed to implementing the recommendations of the independent adaptations working group, and five pilot sites will run until 2017. We will issue new good practice guidance on housing adaptations after the pilot has been evaluated.
We have also provided funding to the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living to develop a national register of accessible housing - Home2Fit - which will help disabled people find suitably adapted and accessible housing.
And we are investing heavily in making transport more accessible. Earlier this year Transport Scotland hosted a Transport Accessibility Summit for disabled people and transport providers to discuss transport issues. The Summit highlighted the need to work together in partnership to improve journeys for disabled people on public transport.
The Blue Badge scheme helps people with restricted mobility to lead independent lives. The Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Act 2014 provides local authorities with increased powers to tackle misuse and provides a review process for applicants who have been rejected.
- We are determined to address specific inequalities experienced by particular groups
Disabled people need to be able to access information and services in a way that suits their needs so that they can enjoy other rights and reduce the risk of exclusion and discrimination. In April 2013 the Scottish Government set eight equality outcomes to be delivered by April 2017 (as required by The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012). One of the outcomes that we've set is called "Equality and Diversity Matters". The outcome focuses on raising staff confidence levels on equality and diversity issues, including raising awareness levels on inclusive communication. With Sense Scotland we have started delivering a series of inclusive communication seminars for staff, and we are in the process of appointing Easy Read champions across the organisation.
We are also funding a range of work through partners to improve inclusive communication across and beyond the Scottish Government:
- Partners in Communication - This project delivered by Sense Scotland is working to ensure that disabled people with complex communication support needs can exercise more choice and control over their lives.
- Creating Connections in Communication - The Scottish Disability Equality Forum (SDEF) is working with Access Panels and public bodies to increase the availability of inclusive communication formats and provide advice on good practice. SDEF have also introduced an Easy Read version of their consultation briefing responses to encourage greater engagement and understanding of policy issues amongst disabled people.
- Inclusive Communication Hub - With Scottish Disability Equality Forum, Scottish Accessible Information Forum (SAIF) are working towards improving their current website to create an online Inclusive Communication Hub. This will provide a shared space for Guidance and templates on accessible formats, inclusive communication practices accessible to all.
British Sign Language
In 2011 the Scottish Government formally recognised BSL as a language. We recognise that while Deaf BSL users are covered by the Equality Act 2010 they still experience significant exclusion because they do not have linguistic access to information and services.
We fully support The British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill introduced to the Parliament in October 2014, and have been working to strengthen its provisions. The Bill will require Scottish Ministers to promote and facilitate the use and understanding of BSL, including tactile BSL, by publishing a BSL National Plan and a national progress report every six years. Other listed authorities will need to publish BSL plans and to contribute to the progress report. The Bill will complete its passage through the Scottish Parliament in September 2015.
Our commitment to human rights
- We are implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that we are all entitled to so that we can live with dignity, equality and fairness. They are universal and cannot be given or taken away.
Everyone has these rights and the UNCRPD sets out what governments have to do to make sure that disabled people have the same rights as everybody else. It is the framework that we use as a Government to improve the lives of disabled people.
This draft delivery plan sets out how we are using the UNCRPD as a framework to improve the lives of disabled people, and forms the basis of Scotland's contribution to the formal reporting process to the UN Committee which is led by the UK Government as the State Party. It sits within the Scottish National Action Plan on Human Rights (SNAP) and reinforces our commitment as a government to promoting and protecting human rights for all.
1.3 Defining disability
The social model of disability
This draft delivery plan supports the social model of disability, which was developed by disabled activists. The social model works on the basis that disability is the relationship between the individual and society, because it sees the barriers created by society as the cause of disadvantage and exclusion. The aim is to remove the barriers that isolate, exclude and so disable the person.
Today many of these groups now serve as important user-led support organisations providing services to, and campaigning on behalf of, disabled people.
Some Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) are run by disabled people for disabled people and don't provide services but they:
- advocate for the rights of disabled people,
- highlight disabled people's needs and priorities, and
- help to ensure that the voice of disabled people is included in policy development and service delivery.
1.4 UNCRPD and Independent living
Independent living means "disabled people have the same freedom, choice, dignity and control as other people at home, at work, and in the community. It does not mean living by yourself or looking after yourself on your own. It means the person has rights to practical assistance and support to participate in society and live an ordinary life." Our definition covers most of the articles in the UNCRPD such as a right to housing, education, employment, access to justice and equal recognition in law.
Email: Catherine Hewit