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by Louise Wilson
05 October 2023
Labour bid to improve disabled young people’s transition to adulthood ‘unlikely’ to help

MSPs warned the bill risked inadvertently complicating the current legislative landscape

Labour bid to improve disabled young people’s transition to adulthood ‘unlikely’ to help

A Labour MSP’s bid to smooth the transition to adulthood for disabled young people is “unlikely to resolve the substantial issues” they face, a parliamentary committee has concluded.

Pam Duncan-Glancy lodged the Disabled, Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) Bill last year, continuing the work of former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.

It would require the Scottish Government to create a strategy for improving opportunities for disabled children and young people, supported by a specific minister.

The bill would also instruct local authorities to put plans in place for every disabled child or young person in their area as they move to adulthood.

But the Education, Children and Young People Committee, which has been scrutinising the bill for the last year, concluded it would do little to achieve its aims.

While supportive of the overall objective of Duncan-Glancy’s proposal, MSPs warned the bill risked inadvertently complicating the current legislative landscape, which is described as “complex, cluttered and difficult to navigate”.

Committee convener Sue Webber said: “This bill has shone a light on the challenges faced by disabled young people and their families.

“However, the views we heard during our inquiry were clear. The bill is unlikely to resolve the substantial issues that families with disabled young people are facing.

“The Scottish Government must urgently act to fix these issues.”

The report concluded there was an “implementation gap” for existing legislation due to limited resources and inconsistent practice and access to services.

Information sharing and poor communication between agencies was highlighted as a major problem.

Differing definitions of disability were also highlighted, with the bill in question referring to being “diagnosed”, the Equality Act having a much broader definition, and existing Scottish legislation in the area referring to additional support needs rather than disability.

The bill will next go to the full parliament for a stage one debate, but the committee said it was “not convinced” that MSPs should vote for it to continue its legislative journey at that point.

However, it did say that “doing nothing is not an option” and urged the government to “address the issues of deep concern”.

A similar bill was brought forward by Johann Lamont in the last session of the Scottish Parliament. It was not passed before the 2021 election and therefore automatically fell.

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