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02 Jun 2017
Forth Valley Stronger Together

The Mental Welfare Commission has found that the number of individuals with learning disability subject to compulsion continues to increase. There has been a 4% rise since the last census in 2010. Since 2006, there has been an overall 30% increase. 

This increase was evident in eight out of eleven NHS Board areas. The greatest increases were in Lanarkshire, Fife and Greater Glasgow and Clyde. There is a very wide variation in rates of compulsion between NHS Boards ranging from 2.9 to 13.4 per 100k which is only partly explained by the location of facilities for people with learning disabilities

Individuals with learning disability are likely to be subject to compulsion for longer than those without learning disability. This was particularly evident for men. They are also more likely to be detained in hospital rather than receiving community treatment. There is some evidence that guardianship is used as an alternative to community based compulsory treatment orders.

Read the full report

How will an independent Scotland afford higher levels of spending on disability-related benefits?

Scotland does spend proportionately more on disability-related benefits than the UK as a whole. But this needs to be set against other areas, such as housing benefit, where we spend less. Overall, welfare is more affordable in Scotland.

Scotland is the eighth wealthiest nation in the developed world in terms of GDP per head, which means we have the money we need to support our most vulnerable people. As an independent country, we will be able to choose how to spend our money, based on the needs and values of the Scottish people, not on choices made at Westminster. The current Scottish Government’s approach will continue to be that Scotland should prioritise spending on protecting vulnerable citizens over spending on policies that we do not agree with.

Will benefits change for disabled people?

We intend that people living in Scotland and in receipt of Disability Living Allowance will not be migrated to Personal Independence Payment.

We have also committed to abolishing the “bedroom tax”, saving 82,500 households in Scotland – including 63,500 households with disabilities and 15,500 households with children – an average of £50 per month.

In addition, this Government proposes to launch an urgent review of the conditionality and sanctions regime, and review the system of assessments for disability benefits. Then, as the new independent benefits system is developed, we will work with disabled people and others with an interest in how to improve things further.

Our priorities for action

This Scottish Government plans to continue with current arrangements for the management of the NHS in Scotland, focussing on sustainable quality and for the integration of adult health and social care services. Services will be accessed in the same way as under the devolution settlement.

Despite efforts to address the challenge of health inequalities in Scotland over recent years, health inequalities persist and demonstrate that the “fundamental causes” of health inequalities – the socio-economic inequalities in society – are the most important.

Recent research shows the strong correlation between poor health and poverty. It suggests that the reason for Britain’s high health inequalities is the failure of successive Westminster governments to choose to reduce inequality.

On Tuesday 26th November the Scottish Government published its White Paper on Scottish Independence called Scotland's Future - A Guide.

It looks at lots of issues across Scotland and many of these issues will benefit people with disabilities and their families even though they are not menitioned directly.  For example many families with disabled children will benefit from the extra childcare on offer as both parents will be able to go out to work and the families will be better off.  

The main policy statements that affect people with disabilities directly are

An end to the welfare reform changes.  The paper suggests that by 2016, the government's move of people to Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment will not have got very far and so it will be stopped.  People will stay on existing benefits such as DLA until a new reformed welfare system is introduced.  Presumably people who have been transferred to PIP will stay on that as well although the white paper is not clear on this. 

The system of medical review of people with disabilities will be urgently reviewed. 

The integration of health and social care will continue.

There will be a continuing role for voluntary organisations in the development of civic Scotland.

Spending on people with disabilities will be prioritised