Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Equal Lives?

Today, there was an informative debate with disabled people about the priorities for the next session of the Scottish Parliament. Disability Agenda Scotland provided an opportunity for candidates such as myself to answer questions from voters in the Touchbase Centre in Kinning Park.

I had visited previously to enjoy an arts performance and tour the amazing state of the art facilities. Details available at: http://www.sensescotland.org.uk/Touchbase/index.php

It was highlighted in information issued beforehand that 1 in 5 of the Scottish population is disabled – that’s 1 million people. Disabled people and carers have a significant influence on the outcome of the election. It is estimated that there will be a high turnout - up to 96% - as disabled people and carers were more likely than average to vote at the last Scottish elections.

The next Scottish Government has the power, and the responsibility, to pursue policies that underpin the rights of, and create more opportunities for, disabled people.

Greens will shift government support to sustainable finance initiatives such as credit unions and cooperatives; and increase support to the social entrepreneurs and voluntary sector recognising its social and environmental benefits. We will promote low cost basic banking which is available from mainstream banks and legislate for a universal right to a bank account.

In addition, we will introduce a Green Procurement Bill to support local economies, small businesses and social enterprises and to make Community Benefit clauses the norm in major public sector contracts.

We recognise the fundamental importance of a skilled workforce in the transformation to a sustainable economy. Employers and our educational institutions must work closer together to ensure Scotland’s workforce can meet its potential and support training and job creation for disabled people as we move to a post carbon economy.

We will ensure that skills agencies prioritise areas like renewable energy, low carbon industries, creative and cultural industries, waste management, manufacturing and the built environment so that we have the skilled workforce needed to deliver on the potential of these sectors. The expansion of apprenticeships has had wide support in Scotland, but we’ll build on that record to enable young disabled people to continue flexible learning alongside work if they wish.

A Charter for Disabled Citizens

Greens believe we can create a country where all can participate fully in society regardless of disability. We’ll work towards eliminating the barriers that prevent equality from progressing in Scotland.

The Scottish Green Party recognises that human rights are everyone’s rights. We’ll support the development of an action plan on human rights, and we’ll complement this with more coherent Parliamentary scrutiny of human rights issues. We welcome the proposal for A Charter for Disabled Citizens which outlines the rights disabled people have and what to do if these are not met.

As the debate ended, I met up with disabled people concerned about the restrictions on the use of a companion card and access to personal specialist equipment which appears to be a postcode lottery. I have to find out more about both issues. Several participants asked for copies of the manifesto on CD or in hard print which I will follow up with the Head Office in Edinburgh. 

Useful Links
Disability Agenda Scotland - http://www.disabilityagendascotland.org.uk/

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