Inclusion Scotland calls for Scottish benefits system to be co-produced with disabled people
Inclusion Scotland is calling for a new Scottish disability benefits system be co-produced with disabled people when responsibility for disability benefits is devolved to the Scottish Parliament next year.
The disability rights organisation estimates that 47 per cent of disabled Scots will lose the higher mobility part of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) when they are reassessed for the UK Government’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The Scottish Parliament will get power over both from April 2017 under new welfare powers in the Scotland Act, although Employment and Support Allowance for people who are unable to work due to an illness or disability will remain reserved to Westminster.
Inclusion Scotland will ask the next Scottish Government to replace the “inhumane, expensive, error-ridden assessment regime” and ensure all benefit claimants, including disabled people, are treated with dignity and respect.
Sally Witcher, CEO of Inclusion Scotland, said: “We urge all parties to commit to using those powers to create a new benefit system that reduces poverty and treats disabled people with dignity and respect, whilst working in co-production with disabled people – the people with lived experience of what does, and doesn’t, work”.
Disabled equality paid "lip service" by political parties, says Scottish Labour’s Siobhan McMahon
An uneven playing field: inequality and disabilities in Scotland
Home benefits: the SFHA's Mary Taylor explains why welfare reform is a concern for housing associations
Inclusion Scotland's election manifesto calls for the right of disabled people to take part in public and political life to be recognised and properly resourced.
Addressing “a restriction of social care support” to “life and limb cover”, “care assessments governed more by budgetary considerations than the outcomes disabled people want to achieve” and care charges rising above inflation, the group is calling for an end to social care charges, a commission on the role and funding of social care and new regulations on the portability of care packages to allow disabled people to live where they want.
It is also calling for more support to help disabled people into work with internships and apprenticeships for disabled people in every Scottish Government department, NHS board and local authority, active promotion of the Access to Work programme, a more effective Scottish employment programme to replace the Work Programme and a requirement for companies supplying services to public bodies to provide better employment opportunities for disabled people.
Only 43 per cent of Scottish disabled people are in work compared to 80 per cent of non-disabled people and just 0.2 per cent of modern apprenticeships went to young disabled people in 2012/13. Recent figures show as many as a quarter of disabled people are living in poverty once the extra costs of disability such as social care, transport and extra heating are taken into account.
Disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to be bullied at school or face harassment in their daily lives and the number of reported cases of disability hate crime is increasing, with disabled women are more likely to be victims of gender related violence, Inclusion Scotland reports.
Inclusion Scotland would like more work to be done by the Scottish Government in challenging negative attitudes to disabled people and in schools to ensure children develop positive attitudes.
As part of this drive for equality and awareness, Inclusion Scotland is calling for all MSPs to commit to undertaking disability equality training.
In the last parliament only three of the 129 MSPs, Siobhan McMahon, Cameron Buchanan and Dennis Robertson, identified as having a disability, despite one in five people in Scotland having a disability.
Siobhan McMahon told Holyrood recently that parties need to take more action to include disabled people equally in politics.
“I think the parties have to take – and this is all parties – they have to pay more than lip service, and I think that’s what they’re doing at the minute,” she said.
Sally Witcher said: “Disabled people are not asking for the earth. All we want is to have the choices, freedoms and respect that non-disabled people take for granted.
“We call upon all candidates concerned with promoting social justice to commit to ending the scandal of disabled people’s poverty, to take action to uphold our human rights and make Scotland a fairer and more democratic place to live in for all its citizens.”