Coalition calls for action to improve equality following publication of wide-ranging survey
Prejudice, poverty and discrimination are still everyday occurrences for Scotland’s disabled people, according to a wide-ranging new report from a coalition of Scottish charities.
The report - Equal? Still Not, Why Not - found a 20% surge in disability hate crime between 2013/14 and 2015/16, with 177 incidents being reported that year.
Just 43% of disabled people were in work, compared to 73% of the wider population, with employment falling in some groups such as people living with sight loss.
The report found almost half of people in poverty live in a household with a disabled person or are disabled themselves, while the extra costs of living with disability average £550 a month.
While there are many nice words and documents that aim to further improve matters, they are not being felt on the ground
Meanwhile, the UK government’s austerity programme was again found to have disproportionately impacted the sector through cuts to services and “crudely applied” benefits checks.
The report states: "Budgets for social care, education, welfare benefits, further education, and community-based support services which disabled people rely on are rapidly diminishing.
“And with them, so is the equality agenda."
The report was published this week by Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS), an umbrella body representing Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Capability Scotland, Enable, RNIB Scotland, Scottish Action on Mental Health and Sense Scotland.
DAS gathered evidence from more than 80 people with physical or learning disabilities, sight or hearing impairments or mental health problems for the report.
Delia Henry, chair of DAS, said: "The only way to know what life is like for disabled people is to ask them - so that's what we've done. This report reveals their real life experiences and feelings.
“A recurring theme is that while matters have improved for some, disabled people still do not feel equal and while there are many nice words and documents that aim to further improve matters, they are not being felt on the ground."
DAS is now calling for a comprehensive review of attitudes and services in order to improve the lives of Scotland’s disabled people.
Mr Henry said: "We are calling for the Scottish Government to fund a national campaign to raise awareness of disability and reduce stigma and discrimination.
“Issues like access to employment, a more dignified and empowering system of social security, combating isolation and loneliness, and access to advocacy support to overcome barriers to achieving the life you want to live - all of these issues are within the gift of Government at all levels to take positive action on."