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Legislation aims to give young disabled people a fighting chance

 

A new members' bill has been launched at Holyrood

A proposed piece of legislation aims to give hope to young disabled Scots.

Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy has formally lodged a members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament to secure the statutory right to a transition plan from school to adulthood for every disabled child. The new legislation will ensure that all young disabled people get the support they need as they move on from school and into adulthood. The bill aims to help improve outcomes for young disabled people.  

As it stands, one year after leaving school, those with impairment related Additional Support Needs (ASN) are more than twice as likely to be unemployed/workless (18%) than those with no ASN (8%). By age 19 things become even worse as young people with impairments are three times as likely to be NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) than their non-disabled peers. Young disabled people at the age of 16 have the same aspirations as their non-disabled peers, but by the age of 26 they are more likely to believe that nothing they do will change their lives.  

The bill seeks to turn this around by requiring the Scottish Government to improve outcomes for disabled children and young people by making transitions the responsibility of a minister, and making it a statutory requirement for local authorities to create a transitions plan for each disabled child and young person. 

At present, every child is entitled to a child’s plan, but there is no statutory requirement in place to support disabled children and young people. As a result, this Transition period can be challenging, and tends to lead to poorer outcomes.  

These proposals had previously been laid in the Parliament by former Scottish Labour MSP Johann Lamont, and a consultation at the time found majority support in favour of the bill’s provisions. However, the bill was unable to complete its passage through parliament in time for the end of session five of the parliament.  The bill has been created with the support of Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland.

Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP said: “For too long, young disabled people have been let down. Their outcomes from school are far poorer than anyone else’s and that is not a situation we should allow to continue. The talent and potential of every disabled young person is being undervalued and underused. That lets them down, and society down – we need to harness the potential in all of us if we’re to create a society where all children can grow up and have a fighting chance at realising their ambitions.  

“This bill will help do that and I am proud to lodge it today. By assigning a minister to oversee transitions, requiring, by law, a strategy and plan for every child’s transition from school to adulthood, we can be sure that no one falls through the cracks.  

“Until now, countless plans and efforts have not delivered the change we need – the disability employment gap is still 35.5 percentage points and they are still less likely to get into and stay in further or higher education. 

“The measures that this bill outlines are vital to changing this, and to addressing the challenges that young disabled people too often face when making their transition from school. They’ve been let down for far too long. It is time to take the steps they need to see to make a tangible, long lasting difference to their lives.  

"That’s why we need the bill and why I’ve brought it back to Parliament. I look forward to seeking support from right across the parliament to deliver the changes that disabled children and young people – and society – so desperately need.” 

 

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