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by Staff reporter
17 August 2023
Scottish Human Rights Commission urges action, not rhetoric, amid 'crisis' for disabled people

Scottish Human Rights Commission urges action, not rhetoric, amid 'crisis' for disabled people

The Scottish Government "has not done enough" to support the human rights of people with disabilities, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has said.

The independent public body has raised "real concerns" in a new report highlighting what is said to be a "crisis" for disabled people's rights.

Jan Savage, SHRC executive director, said: "The Scottish Human Rights Commission is highlighting real concerns to the UN that the situation for disabled people overall in Scotland has not got better and there is an urgent need to address the barriers that disabled people face and the cumulative impact of these.

"The Scottish Government has not done enough to ensure disabled people's human rights are fully realised and we are pushing for protection of disabled people's rights to employment, independent living and an adequate standard of living."

The SHRC worked with other human rights organisations in the UK to prepare a report on disabled people's rights to independent living, employment and standard of living across the four nations.

A submission to support the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it states that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting disabled people's ability to live independently at home.

And it highlights worsening poverty rates for disabled people in Scotland.

The SHRC also worked with a coalition of Scottish disabled people's organisations to share the lived experiences of people across Scotland.

Poverty rates for disabled people were found to have increased, with 51 per cent of all people in poverty living in a household where at least one member has a disability.

The commission heard that higher costs for medical equipment and assistive technology means some people now face "stark choices" about how often they use such equipment. These choices put their health on the line, it is claimed, with some at risk of "the inevitable consequence" of admission to hospital or residential care.

Meanwhile, the introduction of some rights-based protections to the Scottish Social Security framework have "not yet led to material improvement in disabled people's rights", the report found.

Cuts to social care support during the pandemic were "devastating" for those affected, it said.

The warnings come as a UN committee reviews progress across the UK on the recommendations from a 2016 inquiry into the impacts of austerity measures on people with disabilities. That inquiry found the UK was responsible for "grave or systematic violations" of the rights of disabled people.

Dr Jim Elder-Woodward, independent chair of the Scottish Independent Living Coalition, said disabled people's place in society had been "jeopardised by a pandemic response which did not prioritise our human rights and an approach to economic recovery that does not value us".

Urging the UK and Scottish governments "to move from rhetoric to action", he said: "The Scottish Independent Living Coalition acknowledges the Scottish Government's commitment to realising human rights, but maintains that this is not the reality for disabled people on today's day-to-day basis."

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