SNP must do more than 'tinker around the edges' on disability - Pam Duncan-Glancy

One of Scottish Labour’s new intake of MSPs has hit out at the SNP’s lack of action around the rights of disabled people amid calls for more emphasis on the social security brief in government.

Scottish Labour's newly elected Pam Duncan-Glancy is the first permanent wheelchair elected to Holyrood.

Pam Duncan-Glancy, who is the first permanent wheelchair user to be elected to Holyrood, said Nicola Sturgeon’s government has failed to adequately deal with the “structural and systemic inequalities” facing disabled people in Scotland.

The MSP for the Glasgow region, speaking to The Scotsman’s political podcast The Steamie, added that the SNP should set new poverty targets for disabled people as its first move towards reducing the inequalities they face.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Initially praising the SNP’s rhetoric around disabled rights, she said the outcomes for disabled people were still poor.

Ms Duncan-Glancy said: “There is no doubt about it, what the SNP has said over the last 14 years they have been in government around equalities and human rights for disabled people is good.

"And actually the first step of getting there is to talk in those terms, so credit where credit is due.

"But then when you look at the actual outcomes that we have got and we face, we have got disabled people who don’t have enough social care to be able to go and see their family and friends or hold down a job or when things are open go out to bars and restaurants.”

She added: "We’ve got the powers to do something about it.

"We’ve got the powers in Scotland to address poverty. One of the things I’d like to see the government do in terms of disabled people’s poverty is to set poverty targets like they have with child poverty.

"It is all of those structural and systemic inequalities that haven’t, frankly, been touched, we’ve just tinkered around the edges for the best part of two decades and not actually done anything tangible to change the lives of disabled people.”

The MSP also criticised the First Minister’s decision to relegate the social security brief to a junior minister role in the recent Scottish Government reshuffle.

Shirley-Anne Somerville who previously held the brief was moved to education with Ben Macpherson, previously rural affairs and natural environment minister, taking it on alongside a local government brief.

Ms Duncan-Glancy said: “We have got an upgrade in our powers, we certainly shouldn’t be having a downgrade in the importance of it or attention it gets.

"Social security now, and I know this is a cliche term, but now more than ever really is something that we need to focus on.

"You can’t on one hand spend five or six years arguing to have powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament and first of all delay using them and secondly when you get the opportunity to create a new government taking it away from a cabinet secretary post.

"That signal to third sector organisations, to people who need social security, to people who might need it in the future, it is the wrong signal to send and I am deeply worried about what that means for what the focus of the government might be.”

Readers can listen to the full interview with Ms Duncan-Glancy on The Steamie.

The Steamie is available from all of your favourite podcast providers, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.