On Tuesday 16th May, local MSP Ruth Maguire took part in a Scottish Government debate recognising the valuable contribution that disabled people make to Scottish society and advocating further transformational change in order for disabled people to reach their full potential.

The Scottish Government is commited to implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so that disabled people in Scotland can exercise all of their human rights, and has recently published a detailed and ambitious plan for achieving this – A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Our Delivery Plan to 2021 for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The creation of a new Scottish social security system founded upon the principles of dignity and respect for all citizens, and developed in consultation with those who use and rely on social security, is central to this delivery plan.

Equally central is the social model approach that the plan is based on. In this model, disability is viewed as the relationship between the individual and society, as opposed to the medical model, where an individual is understood to be disabled by their impairment.

During the debate, the UK Tory Government’s ongoing violation of disabled people’s rights through punitive changes and cuts to disability benefits was widely condemned – and contrasted with the approach of the Scottish Government.

Speaking in the debate, Ruth said:

“Whilst the Scottish Government is leading a debate on its ambitious plans to deliver on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the ongoing welfare reforms of the UK Tory Government have been condemned as being in grave and systematic violation of the very same convention. Whatever our party politics, this should appall and horrify us all.

The Tories record on welfare reform for disabled people is not only morally outrageous but, to add insult to injury, it is a complete and utter failure in practical terms – with a disabled person on the Tories Work Programme three times as likely to be sanctioned as to be found a job.

The contrast with the actions, values, and plans of this Scottish Government as could not be starker.

Despite the political and economic confines of devolution, this Scottish Government has diverted substantial amounts to mitigate Tory welfare cuts – including fully protecting households from the bedroom tax – 80% of which have a disabled adult.

And the Scottish Government is building a Scottish social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect for all of our citizens – one which will be informed by those with real lived experience of social security – something of particular importance for disabled people, whose barriers and needs are often poorly understood.

This is to be strongly welcomed, because supporting and enabling disabled people is in all of our interests. Disabled people already make an immensely valuable contribution to Scottish society and, with even better support and individual freedom, will be able to flourish and contribute even more in the future.”

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