Embargoed to 12.01 am Thursday 7/4/16
Leading disability charity, Inclusion Scotland, has today issued a “Manifesto for Inclusion” (full manifesto here : https://inclusionscotland.org/scottish-parliament-elections-2016/) calling on the Scottish political parties to commit to taking urgent action to reduce the poverty faced by ever-increasing numbers of disabled people. They say the combined effect of cuts to disability benefits and increasing social care charges are having a devastating effect on disabled people leaving many in dire poverty, living as virtual prisoners in their homes.
The charity point out that over half of all the £22 billion in cuts to benefits made between 2010 and 2015 fell on disabled people and their families and that further cuts have already been introduced by the current Government. Although proposed changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) made in the Budget were later withdrawn, those earlier cuts will still go ahead. It’s estimated that nearly half (47%) of all Scots disabled people on the Higher Mobility rate of Disability Living Allowance will lose it before Scotland has full control over disability benefits.
Inclusion Scotland are calling for candidates and political parties to commit to creating a new, fairer Scottish disability benefit system, designed by and with disabled people.
Sally Witcher, CEO of Inclusion said: There is no possible justification for the poverty and exclusion that so many disabled people experience. Recent figures show that as many as a quarter of disabled people are living in poverty, once the extra costs of disability – such as social care, transport and extra heating – are taken into account. That’s nearly double the rate for non-disabled people (14%). It is hard to convey how devastating an impact such poverty can have on disabled people’s lives and life chances.
However, the good news is that new devolved powers will give the Scottish Parliament a huge opportunity to make a genuine, positive difference to disabled people’s lives. We urge all parties to commit to using those powers to create a new benefit system that reduces poverty and treats disabled people with dignity and respect, whilst working in co-production with disabled people – the people with lived experience of what does, and doesn’t, work”.
Based on disabled people’s own priorities, Inclusion Scotland’s manifesto also calls on candidates and parties to commit to taking action to –
- do more to promote disabled people’s participation in public and political life
- tackle negative public attitudes towards disabled people
- introduce an ongoing disabled intern scheme in the Scottish Parliament and every other public body in Scotland;
- end social care charging – a further factor that compounds disabled people’s poverty.
Sally Witcher said: “Disabled people are not asking for the earth. All we want is to have the choices, freedoms and respect that non-disabled people take for granted. We call upon all candidates concerned with promoting social justice to commit to ending the scandal of disabled people’s poverty, to take action to uphold our human rights and make Scotland a fairer and more democratic place to live in for all its citizens”.
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Contact: Sally Witcher, CEO for further information and interviews
Telephone: 0131 281 0869 (x5119)
1) Inclusion Scotland (IS) is a national network of disabled peoples’ organisations and individual disabled people which is controlled by disabled people. It is funded by Scottish Government to empower disabled people to participate in the policy-making process. IS carried out substantial face to face and online engagement work with hundreds of disabled people throughout Scotland to identify the priorities and key “asks” included in the Manifesto for Inclusion.
2) The Demos think-tank estimated that over half of all the last Government’s welfare cuts fell on disabled people and their families. The impact (up to 2018) on different benefits is quantified here http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Table1-headline.pdf
3) The disability charity SCOPE carried out research (http://www.scope.org.uk/campaigns/extra-costs and identified the extra costs of disability as being £550 a month on average. The New Policy Institute estimates (http://npi.org.uk/files/7814/0490/1005/Disability_long_term_conditions_and_poverty.pdf ) that, taking these extra costs into account, there are 1 million more households containing a disabled person living in poverty than are counted in official figures. That would raise the poverty rate of disabled people in Scotland to around 26% – i.e. nearly twice the rate for non-disabled people.