Programme for Government – A bit of a mixed bag ?

The Scottish Government published its “Programme for Government” on Tuesday (5/9/23).  These are its plans for what it’s going to do in the year ahead (2023 to 2024). There are some very positive proposals in the Programme which will benefit disabled people and their families but overall, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

First the good news! The Scottish Independent Living Fund (ILF) is going to be opened up to new applicants and will get an additional £9 million in funding – enabling it to support 1,000 more disabled people.  The ILF (ILF), which supports disabled people with complex needs, has been closed to new applications since it first opened therefore this is a welcome change.

Benefits and Poverty

There’s more good news around social security benefits. As expected, Scottish disability and carers benefits will be increased in line with inflation next April. Even better, the Scottish Child Payment (currently £25 a week for each child in a low-income household) will also be increased. That’s really good news for families with disabled children or parents because they are more likely to be in receipt of the benefits which qualify families for the Child Payment.

However, 40% of Scots children living in poverty live in households with a disabled family member and the depth of disabled people’s poverty is now endangering their lives. Both the Scottish and UK Governments need to do much more to provide targeted support to disabled people to help cope with the cost-of-living crisis.



There was also some good news on extending access to childcare. The cost of childcare is one of the biggest barriers to women taking up job opportunities. Therefore, any extension in provision is welcome. However, looking at the small print of this commitment, it seems that the extension will only occur in 6 local authority areas, meaning parents in the other 26 authorities won’t benefit from it. It also seems likely that the childcare support for some parents will be means tested which will deepen the poverty trap where people can end up worse off if they get a job.

More also needs to be done to make sure that childcare is both accessible and inclusive for disabled children and parents but there was no mention of that in the published Programme.



Human Rights

The Scottish Government have also restated their commitment to embedding the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities into Scottish law. That should mean that Scots disabled people are able to rely on these rights when challenging decisions by local and national government. Though unfortunately it won’t affect how UK bodies like the DWP go about their work. The real issue is that changing laws is one thing but making housing, transport, health, education, and other services more accessible to disabled people is another. That will cost money and there’s no mention of extra funding for that in the Programme for Government.

Inclusion Scotland will continue working away to ensure that the Scottish Government does even more to assist disabled people with the cost of living. We also want to see them adopting some immediate priorities to bring about positive changes for disabled people in a whole range of areas of Scottish life. If you are a disabled person and would like to join Inclusion Scotland so that decision-makers better understand what needs to change, please get in touch with Inclusion Scotland (details on our contact page here).

The full “Programme for Government” document can be accessed here –