Delivering equality for disabled people

3 December marks International Day of Disabled Persons and allow us to reaffirm our commitment to making Scotland a more equitable and inclusive country for all.

The contributions that disabled people make to Scottish society and Scotland as a whole are invaluable and the SNP are committed to polices that can ensure disabled people are able to realise their full potential.

Here are 10 ways, in government, the SNP are working towards a Scotland that is fair and inclusive for all disabled people.

1. Making travel easier

Through the National Entitlement Card, Scotland’s disabled people continue to be able travel for free on local or Scottish long distance buses. The Scottish Government has also expanded the concessionary bus pass for the companions of eligible disabled children aged under five – a change that could benefit over 3000 families.

2. We’ve established a Scottish social security agency with dignity and respect at its heart

Scotland’s new social security agency will not be guided by Westminster’s language of “shirkers” and “scroungers”. Instead, Social Security Scotland will put people first and view social security as an investment in our people, not as a hinderance.

We’ve also ensured that in Scotland assessments for disability assistance will be delivered in the public sector and not the private sector, as they are in others parts of the UK.

3. Making Modern Apprenticeships open to all

We are ensuring that the Modern Apprenticeship programme is open to all, and increasing the numbers of disabled trainees included in the programme.

The Scottish Government are also providing over £9 million in funding to support employers in the recruitment of young disabled people

4. Supporting people to live with freedom, choice and dignity

We will continue to fund the Scottish Independent Living Fund, which delivers support payments to severely disabled people and enables them to live as independently as possible. And, we will increase funding for the scheme ahead of opening it up to new users.

The Scottish Government will also maintain funding for housing adaptations that help disabled tenants live safely and independently at home.

5. Protecting Scotland from the worst of Westminster cuts

The SNP government is protecting the incomes of disabled people by mitigating the impact of Westminster’s damaging welfare reforms like the Bedroom Tax, which would have disproportionately affected disabled people. We have pledged to abolish the Bedroom Tax when we have the powers to do so.

We will also protect disability benefits and ensure they remain universal, not means tested.

6. Support for disabled people standing for election

We have established a £200,000 Elected Office Fund to provide support for disabled people seeking to stand for selection and election in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. Find out more about the fund, including how to apply, here.

7. Improving mental health in Scotland

Starting in 2018 and progressively increasing over the next four years, we will invest an additional £250 million in improving mental health services – with most additional investment going to services for children and young people.

We will employ around 350 councillors in schools and ensure that every secondary school has counselling services. An additional 250 school nurses will also be recruited by 2022, helping provide a quicker response to mild and moderate emotional and mental health difficulties experienced by young people.

8. Protecting disabled people’s rights

We are committed to ensuring that all disabled people can realise their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, and in 2016 set out our delivery plan to achieve that. And at Westminster, SNP MPs will call for the UN Convention to be incorporated in UK law.

9. Helping people onto the housing ladder

We are working towards ensuring disabled people in Scotland to have access to homes built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.

As part of our commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes in this Parliament, we will ensure that wherever possible the new homes comply with essential aspects of ‘Housing for Varying Needs’. Disabled people with a housing need also have priority access to the LIFT scheme that helps people onto the housing ladder.

10. Helping carers supporting disabled young people

To recognise higher costs of living, the Scottish Government are increasing the Carer’s Allowance further for those looking after more than one disabled child, as well as extending Winter Fuel Payments to families who have severely disabled children.

We will also abolish the 84 day-rule, which currently means that severely ill or disabled children needing more than 84 days hospitalisation or medical treatment lose both Disability Living Allowance and Carer’s Allowance.