1.1 Our aim
The Scottish Government has a clear aim: for disabled people to have the same equality and human rights as non-disabled people. This means disabled people having the same freedom, dignity, choice and control over their lives as everyone else, with rights to practical assistance and support at home, at work and in the wider community. However, for many disabled people living in Scotland, this is still a long way off being a reality.
For several years now, the Scottish Government has been working to progress independent living for disabled people of all ages. We have done this in partnership with Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) in Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), and others.
The Scottish Government now needs to take practical, targeted action across all policy areas and services to deliver on the key outcomes that disabled people have identified as being important to making positive change. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the framework we will use to deliver that change. Across government, we are working hard to build stronger relationships between policy makers and disabled people. By working with DPOs, we will better understand what disabled people need from our policies, and will work together to protect and promote full equality and human rights for all disabled people in Scotland.
This delivery plan sets out our approach to implementing UNCRPD in Scotland over the period 2016-20. It looks in detail at the outcomes - or changes - that we want to achieve and the evidence that supports the need for change. It details a range of the commitments for each of the four outcomes that we are aiming to achieve.
The Scottish Government worked in co-production with DPOs to gather the views of disabled people on the barriers that they face in accessing services. Together with the Equality and Human Right Commission (EHRC) and the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC), we collectively provided policy officials in the Scottish Government with the relevant information to develop their commitments. They will continue to use and reference this information when they work with DPOs in future to design policy which better meets disabled people's needs.
We now seek your views on our commitments in this draft delivery plan. We will use the feedback we receive through the consultation to finalise the delivery plan, which we will publish in the summer of 2016 and reshape our final plan to be the best version it can be. This may include amended or new commitments.
To assist you with this consultation exercise, the Independent Living in Scotland (ILiS) project is working to support disabled people and their organisations and others to respond to the consultation and has produced a resource pack. It is aimed at organisations who will be arranging engagement events or surveys for their members but it can also be used by individuals to help them develop a response to send to the Scottish Government. The resource pack can also be used in response to the COSLA draft plan for the UNCRPD which is being published at the same time as this one.
The resource pack includes background to the consultations; what the UNCRPD means and obligations for governments; a list of 'asks and priorities' from disabled people which was shared with the Scottish Government. It also includes a report on events held with other public bodies and the Scottish Parliament highlighting what could be done to implement the UNCRPD.
The Scottish Government will keep this delivery plan under review, and will report on how we have progressed and highlight areas of good practice that we can share. There may also be gaps to address. It is likely that the commitments will evolve as new challenges and new opportunities emerge. It is also important to note that they will be linked to other projects, funding and activities ongoing across the Scottish Government.
We will also link it to other policy initiatives that are happening across Government and that will place disabled people at the heart of creating a fairer Scotland. This includes our Programme for Government, Scotland's Economic Strategy, the Scottish Approach and a national conversation on Social Justice - a Fairer Scotland. There are currently many innovative projects and investment programmes ongoing across the Scottish Government to improve the rights and lives of disabled people. Some of our successes and good practice are highlighted in the next section.
1.2 What we are doing to tackle inequality and advance disabled people's rights
At the heart of the Scottish approach to social justice is our ambition to build a fairer Scotland.
As a Government we are strongly committed to promoting and protecting equality and human rights for disabled people. We want to ensure that disabled people can realise their rights, and be able to participate in society as full and equal citizens.
We recognise that there is more to do, and this plan sets out our commitments for the next four years.
Our new activity will build further on the firm foundations and progress we have already achieved:
- We are supporting disabled children and young people and their families from birth, through school and in to the world of work.
- We are helping disabled people who are disproportionately affected by welfare changes and cuts.
- We are taking action to remove barriers and improve access to housing and transport.
- We are determined to address specific inequalities experienced by particular groups.
- We are implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Disabled children and young people
In March 2015 the Education (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament. This Bill 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 also underpin our work to 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 to ensure that all services and agencies working with disabled children are joined up and that there is a shared understanding of what wellbeing means along with the availability of appropriate support. The Children and Young people (Scotland) Act 2014 is part of the GIRFEC approach, and requires Scottish Ministers to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
We are supporting work to promote access to the world of work by disabled young people. We are tackling the under representation of young disabled people in the Modern Apprentice Programme and are also developing and promoting supported employment. One example of this is our partnership with Momentum and Falkirk Council to develop Haven Enterprises Larbert which 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.
And within the NHS, there are now several Boards 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.
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.
The Scottish Government is taking decisive action with the resources and powers that we currently have to help disabled people who are disproportionately affected by welfare changes.
We are 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. Disabled people often use an additional room to store equipment or for overnight carers. Although single adults can be allocated an additional room for care workers to stay under the regulations, those who rely on a partner or relative in the same property for care do not receive this allowance.
Since it was established in 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.
Health care and support
We are also safeguarding the support for almost 2900 disabled people across Scotland by establishing a new Scottish Independent Living Fund, which from July 2015 will make payments to all 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 2015-16.
In addition to this, a suite of new legislation will make a real difference in improving the provision of services to disabled people:
- The Social Care (Self Directed Support) Scotland Act 2013 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 (2011-15).
- The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Bill 2014 will result in more joined-up and seamless health and social care provision for individuals, including disabled people, 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.
Access to transport and housing
The freedom of many disabled people living in Scotland is often restricted by buildings and transport systems which are difficult to access. That's why we are taking action and providing investment to remove barriers and improve access to housing and transport, services and venues.
Housing adaptations make a vital contribution to supporting disabled people and older people to live safely, comfortably and independently at home. We have, therefore, 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 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.
We are also investing heavily in making transport more accessible. Transport Scotland sponsors the Mobility and Access Committee Scotland to advise Scottish Ministers on improving the accessibility of public transport services for disabled travelers, and we have worked with a disabled access panel to managing the design of the new Queensferry Crossing.
Earlier this year Transport Scotland hosted a Transport Accessibility Summit which brought together disabled people and transport providers to discuss transport issues affecting disabled people in Scotland. 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. It can, however, be misused by third parties. 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.
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 was introduced to Parliament in March 2015 and 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.
Disabled people need to be able to access information and services in a way that suits their needs in order to enjoy other rights and reduce the risk of exclusion and discrimination. In April 2013 we 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.
We have started delivering, with Sense Scotland, a series of inclusive communication seminars for staff, and we are in the process of appointing Easy Read champions across the organisation.
In addition, we are 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 which was 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, and requiring other listed authorities 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
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 give 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.
We work closely with disabled people to shape our policies and services, and to raise awareness of UNCRPD across the Scottish Government. We will continue to work with disabled people and their organisations as we work to improve disabled people's lives in Scotland.
This draft delivery plan (2016-20) 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 delivery plan supports the social model of disability, which was developed by disabled people: activists who started the 'Independent Living Movement' (ILM).
Unlike the medical model, where an individual is disabled by their impairment, the social model views disability as the relationship between the individual and society. In other words, it sees the barriers created by society as the cause of disadvantage and exclusion, rather than the impairment itself. The aim, then, is to remove the barriers that isolate, exclude and so disable the individual.
Inclusive of all
Negative language carries many messages; it categorises, labels and stereotypes. It can demean and devalue; it can dehumanise and exclude and disempower. There are many examples of the misuse of language which debase disabled people and are outdated and offensive.
To remove the barriers created by negative language, we need to use and encourage appropriate language. Different countries have different guidelines. In some countries, the term 'people with disabilities' is commonly used. In Scotland, the term 'disabled people' is preferred. In other countries there isn't yet a word for disabled.
Opinion can also vary between individuals or groups. For example, most deaf people who use British Sign Language identify themselves as a linguistic or cultural minority rather than as disabled people.
Language can also be positive, reinforcing the positive message of inclusion, defining a disability tool/phrase by 'what it does' rather than 'who it is for'. 'Disabled Parking' is now 'Accessible Parking'; Disabled Toilets are now 'Accessible Toilets'. By using positive and empowering words we can change the way people see disability.
If we are to achieve our aim of full equality and human rights for disabled people in Scotland, then we must take account of all disabled people, including disabled children and young people and older people, whether they are disabled by impairment or long-term condition from birth or acquire it during the course of their life. We also have to understand how other characteristics such as age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being a Gypsy Traveller can impact on a disabled person's experiences and use this understanding to shape our actions.
1.4 UNCRPD and Independent Living
A vital step in our work to promote independent living is making sure that people are clear about what it means. Article 19 of the UNCRPD is about the right to live independently and be included in the community, but there is still some confusion around what we mean when we talk about independent living in Scotland. It is not about living alone with no support.
Independent living means 'disabled people of all ages having the same freedom, choice, dignity and control as other citizens at home, at work, and in the community. It does not mean living by yourself, or fending for yourself. It means rights to practical assistance and support to participate in society and live an ordinary life'. These rights are often denied to disabled people due to social, economic, financial or environmental barriers. So the definition of independent living we are working towards is much broader and covers most, if not all of the other articles in the UNCRPD such as a right to housing, education, employment, access to justice and equal recognition before the law.
For disabled children and young people, having choice and control means making sure that their wishes and feelings are listened to and their views taken into account. This is vital, particularly in assessments and decision making about issues that affect their lives. It is also important to support disabled children and young people to participate fully in daily life in their communities and in the way that they choose.
This delivery plan will help to reduce and remove some of the barriers which currently prevent disabled people of all ages from living an ordinary life, and create a Scotland where disabled people have full and equal access to:
- The built environment including buildings, parks and pavements
- Transport services at every stage of the journey
- Technical aids and equipment
- Advocacy, including peer advocacy
- Suitably adapted housing
- Personal assistance/social care
- Accessible information - when, where and how they need it
- Health care
- Education and training - including lifelong learning
- Adequate income - in or out of work
- Information - when, where and how they need it
- Civic and political life
- The justice system
Email: Catherine Hewit