BY STEVEN MCAVOY - WELFARE RIGHTS ADVISER
As the Scottish Parliament looks set to get more powers over benefits through the Scotland Bill, ENABLE Scotland members tell them how welfare reform has affected them so far.
Benefit cuts have been a major focus for recent UK Governments and the new UK Government, voted in last month, looks set to continue to this trend with £12 billion of cuts proposed in their manifesto.
Although it is the UK Government that are currently responsible for the vast majority of benefits, the Scottish Parliament are very interested in the impact that benefit changes are having on people in Scotland.
The Scottish Parliament has set up a Welfare Reform Committee to look at this and they recently invited our members to a meeting in Niddrie Community Centre in Edinburgh.
Members of our Edinburgh ACE group took up this invite and went along to tell the members of the committee what they thought of the current and proposed changes.
Top of our members agendas on the day were:
- the amount and size of forms people are asked to fill in
- cuts to benefits for disabled people
- and making sure that people with a learning disability who need a bus pass can get one.
It was especially important that our members took this opportunity to discuss their concerns with the Scottish Parliament for two reasons.
Firstly, The UK Government just published the Scotland Bill which will devolve some of the powers over benefits, including disability and carers benefits, to the Scottish Parliament. We need to make sure that the voices of people with learning disabilities help shape how the Scottish Parliament use these powers to produce the best possible outcomes for people who have a learning disability.
Secondly, ENABLE Scotland recently launched the #stopthebus campaign calling on the Scottish Government to improve access to the National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme in Scotland. We want to see the Scottish Government to extend the eligibility criteria to include people who are entitled to the lower rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.
The Scottish Government already has the power over the concessionary bus travel scheme in Scotland and they can make a real change now. That is why it is important that we take every possible opportunity to tell our elected representatives why having a bus pass is so important to people who have learning disabilities.
You can find out more about what our members think about welfare reform by watching our short video.
You can also support the #stopthebus campaign by: