Disability rights progress is now going backwards, warns equality commission
LIFE for disabled people is “going backwards” with rising hate crime, less accessible housing and low pay and attainment, a new report shows.
In a wide-ranging look at living, learning and working conditions for those with disabilities in the UK, David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said: “In many sectors we have failed to make real progress, and in some areas we have even gone backwards.
“Disabled people are being left behind in comparison with others in society.
“More families that include a disabled person live in poverty, access to mental health care is inadequate and housing and transport fail to support disabled people to live independently and fulfil their potential and aspirations.
“The conclusion we must draw from the evidence is that disabled people are still being treated as second-class citizens.”
One in five Scots is thought to have some form of physical or mental disability.
Scots with disabilities are two-and-a-half times more likely to be jobless than others, with an unemployment rate of 12.2 per cent compared with 4.9 per cent for the general population. Meanwhile, those in work earn an average of £1.10 per hour less than non-disabled people.
In school, those with disabilities have far lower attainment rates and are more likely to be suspended or expelled, and 17,000 wheelchair users – 15 per cent of the total – are understood to be in unsuitable housing, with a fall in the number of adapted local authority properties.
Meanwhile, reports of disability-related hate crime increased 20 per cent in 2014-15 on the previous year and disabled Scots are less likely to feel safe outside alone in their own areas.
The number of disabled Scots starting apprenticeships has gone up by just 0.3 per cent to seven per cent in the last three years, and Holyrood action to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax has helped up to 72,000 people claim discretionary housing payments.
Alastair Pringle, head of EHRC Scotland, said the report “raises important issues about the extent to which disabled people are seen and treated as equal citizens”, adding: “The Scottish Government’s disability action plan, and their commitment to putting dignity and respect at the heart of their new social security powers, are very welcome. I hope they will lead to improvements.
‘We have a large pool of skilled and talented people who are unable to fully contribute to Scottish society – economically, socially or civically – because of avoidable barriers. This isn’t just a problem for disabled people, it’s a problem for all Scots. We need to harness this untapped potential.”
Original source – Kirsteen Paterson, The National Scotland- http://www.thenational.scot/news/15200581.Disability_rights_progress_is_now_going_backwards__warns_equality_commission/