Budget cuts destroying disability “equality agenda”

People with disabilities need more help finding employment
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People in Scotland with disabilities still face discrimination, poverty and prejudice according to wide-ranging report from a coalition of Scottish charities released today.

The ‘Equal? Still Not, Why Not?’, published by Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) says while the Paralympics help challenge negative stereotypes, public spending cuts to services including social care, welfare benefits are having a severe impact on the “equality agenda”.

Nearly one in five people of working age in Scotland (19 per cent, one million people) are disabled.

Almost half of people in poverty live in a household with a disabled person or are disabled themselves. The extra costs of living with disability on average £550 a month.

However the report says the eligibility and assessment processes for social security benefits have been tightened and “too crudely” applied.

One person in the report described being refused a British Sign Language Interpreter three times at the Jobcentre.

Delia Henry, chair of DAS, said: “The only way to know what life is like for disabled people is to ask them - so that’s what we’ve done.

“A recurring theme is that while matters have improved for some, disabled people still do not feel equal and while there are many nice words and documents that aim to further improve matters, they are not being felt on the ground.

Ms Henry added: “We are calling for the Scottish Government to fund a national campaign to raise awareness of disability and reduce stigma and discrimination. Issues like access to employment, a more dignified and empowering system of social security, combating isolation and loneliness, and access to advocacy support to overcome barriers to achieving the life you want to live.”

A Scottish Government said: “The First Minister has said very clearly that we need to redouble our efforts to tackle inequality head-on and ensure everyone has the chance to realise his or her full potential and part of that work is our Disability Delivery Plan which we will publish before the end of the year. It has been developed by working with disabled people and organisations representing them, and includes actions, from employment and health and social care support to transport and active citizenship, which will address the main recommendations in the DAS report, and will make life for disabled people fairer.”

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