It is evident that progress has been made in Scotland over the past number of years. For instance, disability is a protected characteristic, making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their disability. This removes barriers to employment that previously existed, making it easier to find meaningful employment for those who historically have been unable to.

Self-Directed Support provide an opportunity for aid to be tailored to individuals and make sure that it fits the specific needs of a person or family. It marks a move away from uniform, blanket benefits that treat everyone with a disability as exactly the same, and towards a more person-centred approach that takes into account the uniqueness of every individuals experience and needs.

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There are laws and benefits on the books to make life easier for those with disabilities, but unfortunately, writing and codifying them is not the end of the story. Their existence alone does not drive real change.

Despite the removal of some barriers, only 45 per cent of disabled people in Scotland are in employment compared to 81 per cent of the working population. This employment gap proves that there is so much left to do if we want to make the labour market truly inclusive.

The rate of uptake of Self-Directed Support varies across local authorities, with many people describing a number of significant barriers to uptake, varying from financial to legal, making it difficult for many individuals and families to access the targeted support they need.

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It is clear that there is much still to be done. Not only must we improve legislation to ensure that no one is excluded in that way, but we must also work to make sure that the legislation that exists is properly actioned. There is no excuse for governments not to be able to enforce laws that they themselves have passed.

For me, it is clear. The people of Scotland need a champion who can work on their behalf at all levels of government. A person who has the necessary powers to ensure that any laws that are passed work for the benefit of al people, especially the disabled community.

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That is why, following a thorough public consultation, I am planning to bring forward a Bill to the Scottish Parliament that would establish a Disability Commissioner for Scotland. The office of the Commissioner will be independent from government, non-political and will be committed to fighting for a community that for too long hasn’t had its voice heard.

This International day of Persons with Disabilities, I hope that we can look to a future where the disabled community in Scotland has a champion who can ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs are addressed.

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Jeremy Balfour is a Conservative MSP for Lothian

QOSHE - Scots living with disability need a new champion - Jeremy Balfour - Jeremy Balfour
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Scots living with disability need a new champion - Jeremy Balfour

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28.11.2022

It is evident that progress has been made in Scotland over the past number of years. For instance, disability is a protected characteristic, making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their disability. This removes barriers to employment that previously existed, making it easier to find meaningful employment for those who historically have been unable to.

Self-Directed Support provide an opportunity for aid to be tailored to individuals and make sure that it fits the specific needs of a person or family. It marks a move away from uniform, blanket benefits that treat everyone with a disability as exactly the same, and towards a more person-centred approach that takes into account the........

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