As part of ENABLE Scotland’s AGM in November 2013 our members were given a presentation on the changes to the benefits system and then given the opportunity to take part in a video diary where they were able to give their experiences and opinions on these changes.
The footage from the video diary has now been sent to the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee as part of the “Your Say” call for evidence from people with long term disabilities and can be viewed here http://youtu.be/RurdqtI_xaM or via the Scottish Parliament website http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/68298.aspx
The message coming out of the video diary is clear. People with a learning disability are very concerned about the process of welfare reform and some have already seen negative impacts with one member having to attend an Employment and Support Allowance tribunal and another having to move house due to the Bedroom Tax.
A particular area of concern for our members is the future of the concessionary travel scheme (or buss pass as it’s more commonly known). They worry that the scheme could end or that future benefit changes might mean that they are no longer entitled to their bus pass.
The concessionary travel scheme allows pass holders free nationwide bus travel (some can also have a carer accompany them for free) as well as discounted rail and ferry travel.
This is a particularly important point for the Welfare Reform Committee as although the vast majority of benefit changes are decided by the UK Government, the concessionary travel scheme is different with the Scottish Government having the power to stop the scheme or limit or extend its eligibility criteria.
ENABLE Scotland are aware of the huge importance of access to public transport for people with a learning disability and would like to see the Scottish Government extend the eligibility criteria to include the lower rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.
We are also campaigning for better to access to public transport through our Help Us Be Spontaneous campaign (more information on the HUBS campaign can be found here http://www.enable.org.uk/HUBS/Pages/default.aspx)