Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland review what commitments Holyrood candidates are making to support those with disabilities
Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland have been engaging with the main political parties to secure commitments in their manifestos that they will take forward the key provisions in Johann Lamont MSP’s Member’s Bill, the Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) (Scotland) Bill, in the new parliament. Our organisations believe this legislation is urgently required to improve outcomes for disabled children and young people in the transition to adulthood.
The legislation, which was developed with assistance from Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland, secured cross-party support from 53 MSPs. It would give a right to a Transitions Plan to every child or young person with an impairment or long term health condition, with support remaining in place until no longer needed, or the young person’s 26th birthday. The bill would also require the Scottish Government to introduce a national transitions strategy to improve outcomes for disabled children and young people in the transition to adulthood, and require the Scottish Government to appoint a minister with special responsibility for transitions.
Johann Lamont MSP, and representatives from Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland, gave oral evidence to the Education and Skills Committee in February outlining the case for the bill - especially in the context of the impact of the pandemic on young disabled people’s employment prospects.
Although the bill received a positive response from the committee, it subsequently confirmed that it would be unable to complete its Stage 1 scrutiny due to the lack of time left in the current parliament. This was highlighted in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on 9 March by Clare Adamson MSP, the convenor of the committee: “It is clear from the response to our call for views that the proposals deserve further scrutiny. I know that we cannot hold a future government and committee to that in session six, but we trust that the committee’s views will be heard. I thank Johann Lamont again for raising this really important issue and I hope that, in the next session, the parliament finds a way to improve outcomes for disabled young people in the transition to adulthood”.
To ensure that the proposed legislation to improve disabled children’s and young people’s transitions to adulthood is progressed, Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland then engaged with the main political parties to secure a commitment in their manifestos to re-introduce the legislation. Our organisations’ efforts in this area have been rewarded, as four parties have included commitments in their manifestos to improve outcomes in the transition to adulthood for disabled children and young people.
The Scottish Labour Party has confirmed its commitment to continue to “promote the Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) (Scotland) Bill, which would give a right to a Transitions Plan to every child or young person with an impairment or long-term health condition”. The Scottish Greens have also confirmed their commitment to “support legislation to ensure all young people with additional needs have access to adequate support as they transition from school to adulthood”, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have confirmed they would “give every child or young person with a disability or long-term health condition the right to a transitions plan to help with their move from child to adult services”. The SNP’s manifesto confirms it would introduce a national transitions to adulthood strategy “to ensure there is a joined up approach to supporting our disabled young people and improve guidance to all those providing support”.
Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland warmly welcome the parties’ support to improve transitions to adulthood for disabled children and young people, and look forward to engaging with all parties in the new parliament to take forward legislation which will help to significantly improve outcomes for disabled children and young people during this transition.
Emma Walker, Camphill Scotland’s director, said: “Families across Scotland face the fight of their lives as they try to access support to ensure a smooth transition for their child as they moved towards adulthood. Decisions that will impact a young disabled person’s life are often made without the child or their family, and are often made in such a way that causes unnecessary trauma for the young person. The current system, which relies on guidance, is failing young people and their families. A transitions plan would allow for the individual needs of each young person to be recognised and met. We look forward to working with politicians across all parties to make this a reality in the next parliament.”
Bill Scott, senior policy advisor, Inclusion Scotland, said: “Young disabled people face huge challenges in making the transition between school and adult life. It results in their being twice as unlikely to achieve a “positive destination” as their non-disabled peers. Therefore, we believe that they need the same level of support as is currently, and rightly, available to young care leavers. Over 50% of all the redundancies caused by the pandemic have fallen on young workers aged 16-25 years old. Young disabled people leaving school over the following few years are going to face an even more competitive labour market than usual and without additional support the disability employment gap, which is already far too large, will grow even further”.
Emma Walker is the director of Camphill Scotland, and Bill Scott is the senior policy advisor at Inclusion Scotland