Scotland must do more to tackle disabled peoples exclusion

Published: 03 Dec 2015

Speaking on Wednesday 3rd December at Scotland’s First Annual Disabled Peoples Summit, Alastair Pringle, EHRC Director in Scotland said:

Three years ago, London 2012 was seen as a turning point for the visibility and inclusion of disabled people in our society, and with an expected legacy of improvements. Since then, Britain has made progress on many fronts but there increasing evidence that disabled people remain locked out or left behind.

The Commission's own research – Is Britain Fairer? - published last month found that:

  • Disabled children have some of the lowest attainment rates at our schools
  • The employment of disabled people lags stubbornly behind the average
  • Our housing stock remains largely inaccessible forcing many to live in inadequate unsatisfactory homes, if they are lucky, or bed blocked if they are not.
  • Our social supports are weakening as social work budgets shrink, voluntary sector orgs close.

Mr Pringle was speaking at the first annual Scottish disabled people summit in Edinburgh called “Getting the Rights right”. The conference is being held on International Day of Disabled People.

Mr Pringle said:

The consequences of inequality, of exclusion, and of dependence for disabled people are all too evident. Limited lives, often on the periphery of society. Poor lives, subsisting on meagre incomes. Lonely lives, shut out from society. While we’ve seen greater cultural understanding and acceptance of disabled people’s rights, these positive changes are masking increased social isolation for many disabled people as our society and economic life undergoes significant structural changes. Far from enjoying increased visibility and being able to participate more fully in every aspect of life, there is a risk that disabled people will become more invisible as both consumers and participants, with organisations losing out on their valuable experiences and custom. This is why disability will remain a top priority for the Commission.


Notes to editors

For more press information and interviews contact the Commission’s media office on 0141 228 5964, out of office hours 07846889425.

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It is an independent body responsible for protecting and promoting equality and human rights in Great Britain. It aims to encourage equality and diversity, eliminate unlawful discrimination, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and is accredited by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution.
  • The 2011 census figures show that 523,000 (or 15% of) working age people in Scotland have a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability. Economic activity rates are typically much lower than non-disabled people - Annual Population Survey data for 2014 shows that 45 %[1] of working age disabled people are in work, compared with 80% of non-disabled people of working age. However, there are variations according to type of impairment. For example:
    • Disabled people with mental health problems have the lowest employment rates of all impairment categories at only 21%. 
    • The employment rate for people with learning disabilities is 26%.[2]
    • Self-employment rates tend to be higher for disabled people. In 2014, the self-employment rate for disabled people was 14% compared to 11% for non-disabled people.[3]
  • Research published by the EHRC in 2013[4] demonstrated that only 0.3% of all Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland were offered to disabled people, although this figure has now risen to 1.5%.
  • Scottish Government data show that school leavers with additional support needs (including those leaving special schools) in 2009/10 continue to have lower attainment, with only 11.7% of pupils with an additional support need achieving one or more Highers or better, compared to 52.6% for those with no additional support needs[5]
  • Disability aggravated crimes rose by 12 per cent in 2014 although only accounted for 2.6% of all hate crime reported in Scotland that year. Enable Scotland state that 1:3 people with learning disabilities had experienced harassment over their life course. [6] 84% of disability aggravated charges led to a prosecution

[1] DWP March 2014

[2] Annual Population Survey (October 2012 to September 2013)

[3] Annual Population Survey (October 2012 to September 2013)

[4] EHRC 2013.

[5] Scottish Government (2011) School Leaver Attainment and SQA Attainment, Supplementary Data, No 1: 2011 Edition, table 3.3

[6] Scottish Government 2014.

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