International Day of Disabled People

Today is the International Day of Disabled People, and to mark the occasion Communities Minister Marco Biagi represented the SNP Scottish Government at the first Disabled People’s Summit in Edinburgh.

The SNP are committed to promoting and protecting equality and human rights for disabled people. We want to make sure that disabled people can take part fully in all areas of daily and public life, and we are working to break down the barriers to independent living that people may face.

The SNP Government are taking practical steps, such as supporting disabled and young people and their families from birth, through school and into the world of work. We are also investing £5.4 million over 2 years to improve learning disability services in Scotland.

However the UK Government’s harsh welfare reforms are having a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people here in Scotland. We have seen the criteria for disability benefits toughened, services cut and reforms which unfairly target disabled people.

The SNP are taking decisive action to help disabled people who are being affected by welfare changes. Figures show that the Bedroom Tax hits disabled people hardest, with around 80% of households in Scotland affected by the bedroom tax containing a disabled adult.

The SNP Government have provided £90 million to local authorities to mitigate the bedroom tax for the 72,000 households affected by it, as part of a package of almost £300 million to limit Westminster’s damaging cuts.

We also established the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2013, which provides community care grants to help people to live independently, and crisis grants to people in emergency situations. Since this fund was established, 1 in 3 of the total number of applications have been from households containing at least one disabled person.

With a range of limited new powers on the horizon from Westminster, we are also working with disabled people and the organisations which represent them to design a new fair and simple social security system, so we can ensure we provide personal support and care as well as recognising the rights of disabled people.

We are continuing our work to create a fairer and more equal society through our Draft Delivery Plan, which sets out the steps we will take over the next four years to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We are consulting disabled people and the organisations which represent them, to bring the voice of disabled people into the heart of government.

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Photograph by Keoni Cabral