Calls to build a more inclusive society for disabled Scots after Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to build a fairer society for disabled Scots, a disability campaign group has said.

Inclusion Scotland has argued that going back to the way things were before the pandemic is not good enough for disabled people, as the charity launched its Holyrood 2021 manifesto.

The Rights and Renewal manifesto calls for social care support to be recognised as a fundamental right, with the same criteria across the country.

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The group also called for equal access to education and jobs for disabled people, especially disabled young people, and for the number of disabled people living in poverty to be reduced.

Edinburgh's princes street became busier when shops opened over the summer. Picture: PA.

Disabled people have been hit worst by the pandemic, the group argued, with pre-existing inequalities magnified.

Key concerns include losing social care support, losing jobs, and not having access to food, medicine and key health services.

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Inclusion Scotland chief executive Sally Witcher said: “Disabled people have told us about the problems they face daily, both before and as a result of Covid-19, and what needs to change.

“Before Covid-19, disabled people were already some of the most marginalised and excluded in society.

“We were more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed or earn less than non-disabled people, and less likely to leave school with qualifications, because of the barriers and exclusion we face in our day-to-day lives.

“The Covid-19 crisis and responses to it highlighted this, aggravating existing inequalities and generating new ones, and putting the human rights of disabled people at further risk.

“Going back to the way things were before is not the answer. We don’t want to go back. We want to go forwards to a more inclusive future.”

The “fresh start” manifesto also calls for the United Nations Convention on Rights of Disabled People to be incorporated into Scots law, to “fully promote, protect and realise our human rights”, and for disabled people to be included in the decision-making process for improving their lives after Covid-19.

The release of the manifesto comes after an independent review published last month recommended a National Care Service, similar to the NHS, be set up in Scotland to tackle the crisis in the sector.

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