The Scottish Government has unveiled proposals to promote equality and independence
Charities have welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s plan to transform the lives of disabled people.
A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People sets out five objectives which aim to support independent living, ensure decent incomes and fair working lives, improve accessibility, protect rights and promote participation in all aspects of life.
The plan goes on to detail 93 actions to be taken in order to achieve these goals.
These include halving the employment gap for disabled people, offering the highest level of financial support to disabled Modern Apprentices and introducing a new work experience programme.
The challenge now is to transform ambitions into actions that will, in turn, transform disabled people’s lives
Other actions will promote the building of more accessible homes, improve public transport and allow more disabled people to access all levels of education.
Better collaboration between national and local government, third sector bodies and organisations representing disabled people is also promised under the proposals.
Unveiling the plan in Glasgow, social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “Over a million disabled people contribute to Scotland’s communities and add talent, diversity and richness to our society.
“Our goal is for everyone of that million to have choice, control, dignity and freedom to live the life they choose with the support they need to do so. This plan, developed in consultation and engagement with disabled people, sets out the actions we believe will help to achieve this goal and secure the transformational changes we need.
“We know many disabled people are still unable to live their lives as they would want to because of the barriers in their way. It is not the impairment which disables people, but society’s failure to adapt our environment, workplaces and information so they are open to everyone on an equal basis. This must change.
“And there are financial barriers too. At a time when the UK government is undermining the human rights of disabled people with its programme of austerity and welfare cuts and a blatant disregard for the impact it has on disabled people’s lives, we are committing to furthering rights.
“Given that the UN declared last month that there was evidence of ‘grave or systematic violations’ of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it’s no wonder disabled people feel this is an assault on their wellbeing, and makes the need for change more pressing.”
Layla Theiner, from Disability Agenda Scotland, welcomed the plan’s recognition of the discrimination, poverty and prejudice still faced by many disabled people.
She said: “As the plan notes, public spending cuts to services and social security have negatively impacted a large number of disabled people and exacerbated inequalities. It is key that the ambitions and actions in the report are realised to ensure a difference is made to their lives.”
Chief executive of Inclusion Scotland, Dr Sally Witcher OBE, said the plan set out a “positive direction of travel” towards a fairer Scotland.
She added: “Specific commitments on funding for internships, to promote volunteering and to help address the under-representation of disabled people in politics and public life are particularly welcome.
“But the challenge now is to transform ambitions into actions that will, in turn, transform disabled people’s lives and the country we live in. There is much to be done and no time to lose.”
The Scottish Government said work had already begun on a number of the proposals put forward in the plan. A roundtable discussion between relevant agencies will take place early next year to identify further priority areas with progress reports being issued at regular intervals thereafter.