At the heart of the Scottish Government's approach to tackling inequalities and delivering a strong economy is our ambition to build a fairer and more equal Scotland. We want to create a successful society where there are opportunities for all to flourish and where the barriers to equality of opportunity and independent living are removed.
As a Government, we are firmly committed to removing disabling barriers and enabling disabled people to enjoy equal access to full citizenship, so that they can maximise their potential and add to the success and prosperity of our communities and our country.
The Scottish Government has worked closely with disabled people and their organisations, and with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to develop the outcomes we are aiming to achieve, and the approach to developing our response.
Our draft plan is also complemented by a draft plan by COSLA - also published today - on behalf of the local authorities it represents. This will also give disabled people an insight of what local authorities are doing at a local level. I would encourage you to respond to the consultation on COSLA's plan as well as this Scottish Government plan.
We want to be the most open and accessible Government Scotland has ever had and for the consultation on this draft plan to reach those who don't normally engage with government. These are exciting times that we live in and this is an opportunity for us to do things differently.
We have provided funding to Disabled People's Organisations to engage with disabled people across Scotland about this plan as part of the consultation. We want to hear your views about the commitments we have made to help us make progress as we work to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). We will use the consultation responses to finalise the UNCRPD delivery plan which will be published next summer.
Like most long-term change programmes, this delivery plan is likely to develop over time in the next few years from 2016 to 2020. We will link it to a range of other engagement policies that put disabled people at the heart of creating a fairer Scotland. We know that there is no quick or easy fix. Creating equal opportunity for disabled people is a complex and long-term goal, particularly at a time of major economic difficulty.
But we must achieve it because economic difficulty does not lessen our public duty to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, not just for the few, but for everyone.
We want everyone to live in a fairer, healthier and happier country, where all people are valued and able to achieve their potential.
Alex Neil MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice,
Communities and Pensioners' Rights
Email: Catherine Hewit