Work already underway
2016 is the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act and marks 10 years since the UK adopted the UNCRPD. This Delivery Plan is rooted in the UNCRPD and recognises that the human rights of disabled people must underpin all of our activity across the whole range of policy and legislation which affects disabled people. We have used the Convention as a lever for change since it was ratified and will continue to do so.
We have made progress since these landmark events, and this Delivery Plan builds on the firm foundations of work already underway. The Delivery Plan also provides the connection between these different areas of work and establishes the overarching ambitions of our work on disability issues and our use of the social model of disability.
Support Services that meet disabled people's needs
We have already developed a number of relevant strategies for example on autism, dementia, learning disability, sensory impairment and carers. These are designed to improve the services available to disabled people and to promote independent living. This Delivery Plan is strongly aligned to the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, which is focused on tackling inequality and creating a more inclusive Scotland. It is also closely linked to the Scottish National Action Plan on Human Rights.
We are determined to address the inequalities experienced by particular groups. We have invested £5.4 million over two years to improve learning disability services in Scotland. In the area of mental health, we have taken action to improve access to treatment; reduce waiting times; and improve the workforce. NHSScotland's expenditure on mental health has increased by 3.4% since 2011-2012 and represents 12% of total NHS spending. The British Sign Language ( BSL) (Scotland) Act 2015 is now being taken forward with a national action plan to be published in October 2017. This will set out our strategy for promoting and supporting BSL and our expectation of what other public bodies should do to ensure greater equality for people whose first or preferred language is BSL.
We are supporting disabled children and young people and their families from birth, through school and into the world of work. The Getting It Right for Every Child framework ensures that all services and agencies working with disabled children deliver a coordinated approach that is proportionate and timely. National guidance for education authorities will improve the school experience and outcomes for disabled pupils. Additional Support for Learning ensures every pupil receives support to suit their circumstances.
Decent incomes and fairer working lives
We are developing and promoting supported employment - a place and train model which enables people to learn on the job with support from colleagues and a job coach.
We are doing all we can, within the resources and powers we have, to help disabled people who are disproportionately affected by welfare reform. We invested around £296 million over the period 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 to limit the damaging effects of the cuts and changes being imposed by Westminster and to mitigate the bedroom tax.
The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 came into force in April 2016, placing the Scottish Welfare fund into law and putting a duty on each local authority to maintain a welfare fund. Priority will be given to applicants with additional needs, including disabled people and those with terminal illnesses. And in relation to equality for disabled people in the workplace, the Supported Business Framework will continue to ensure that these businesses can thrive and provide employment opportunities for disabled people.
We have safeguarded support for 2,899 disabled people across Scotland, by setting up a new Independent Living Fund for Scotland, from 1 July 2015 when the UK Government scrapped their fund. In addition to protecting the funding for existing users, we are providing an extra £5 million of funding in 2015-2016 to open the fund to new applicants. The Self-directed Support ( SDS) Act and the 10-year SDS Strategy backed by £46.2 million over five years (2011-2016) will give disabled people greater control over their lives.
Places that are great to live in
We are taking action and providing investment to remove barriers and improve access to housing and transport. We are testing fundamental changes to the delivery and funding arrangements for housing adaptations which will help shape new guidance.
Improvements in building standards are helping to address accessibility issues when new building work takes place, although much more needs to be done to ensure existing houses and other buildings can be accessed by all.
We are investing heavily in accessible transport solutions and looking at disabled parking within a wider review of parking generally. Concessionary travel is now a well-established practice across the country.
Opening up access to Scotland for disabled tourists has been underway for some time. Tourism is an important global market and provides benefits to disabled Scots also.
Equally Safe, Scotland's strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls, is considering specific actions to address the issues facing disabled women and girls. We will be engaging with Disabled People's Organisations as part of this work.
The Equality Act 2010 provides protection for disabled people experiencing discrimination and in Scotland we have developed strong duties on public authorities to support their work on advancing equality. These help to ensure that the decisions taken by public bodies are fair and that equality is considered fully as part of business and service delivery. The next reports on progress are due in April 2017 at which time public bodies will also be refreshing and publishing their equality outcomes.
The Human Rights Act 1998 is an important piece of legislation for disabled people. We have strongly resisted any moves to repeal this legislation and we are resolute that there should be no deterioration in the rights and protections for Scotland's people.
We provided resources for an access to elected office fund for prospective candidates for the Scottish local government elections in 2017. We want to build on this work to ensure Scotland's elected officials more closely reflect the diversity of Scotland. Further, we have provided funding for internships with all the political parties and are encouraging parties to become more aware of the barriers disabled people face and to address them.
Much has already been done to change the way we work in government. We are focused on getting the best outcomes for people and must engage those with lived experience if policies and programmes are to be as relevant and effective as possible. This approach is particularly relevant as we develop Scotland's new social security system - a system we are determined should be based on dignity and respect. Going Further: Scotland's Accessible Travel Framework is a positive example of disabled people and their representatives helping to shape the agenda and producing the results. 'Nothing About Us Without Us!' is the basis for the co-production with disabled people in Scotland.
The actions set out in this Disability Delivery Plan are complementary to these and many other programmes of work already underway which have a positive impact on disabled people. In some cases there is potential for these programmes to do more or work differently, so that they better meet the needs of disabled people and we will look for opportunities to make these changes.
So while there is much more we need to do in the current parliamentary term and beyond to create a fairer Scotland for disabled people across Scotland, we are building on firm foundations. Our ambitions are long term but the actions here that we will take forward, together with the wide range of existing work, will make a real difference. We will continue to work with disabled people to ensure they hold us to account.
'We've still got a long way to go in terms of achieving full equality for disabled people but let me tell you, having lived through the past decades with my disability and witnessing how far we've come so far, I couldn't be prouder to call Scotland my home and I'm full of hope for the next generation.'
Disabled person, Ayr