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Launch of consultation on learning disability rights law must lead to new legal protections

Rights Now Launch Members

Enable welcomes Scottish Government public consultation on Learning Disability, Autism and Neurodiversity Bill

A Scottish Government consultation launched today on a proposed new law to protect the rights of people with learning disabilities and autistic people must tackle the persistent social inequalities they face, according to Scotland’s biggest learning disability charity.

Research carried out for Enable recently found overwhelming public support (71%) for a new Commissioner role for people with learning disabilities in Scotland1.  The research for Enable’s Rights Now! campaign also showed over three quarters of the Scottish public support guaranteeing people with learning disabilities can access social care in the community (78%) and receive employability support (77%).

The Rights Now! campaign calls for new legislation which establishes a Commissioner role to ensure people with learning disabilities have:


  • The right to self-directed care and support;
  • The right to inclusive education and employment;
  • The right to be included and respected in their community.


Ahead of the consultation, Enable conducted a survey of 629 people with learning disabilities, their families and people who provide support for them to identify the key issues which new laws need to address.  This research found that:


  • 97% believe there should be a Commissioner Role
  • 54% found it hard to access social care support
  • 52% had problems accessing health services
  • 49% said they had found it hard finding out what benefits they might be entitled to.


Mental Health Minister Maree Todd MSP said:

“People with learning disabilities, autistic people and neurodivergent people make up around 15% of our society and many of them think and see the world differently. This shouldn’t cause them to be stigmatised and disadvantaged and the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that their rights are respected.

“This public consultation has been designed alongside people with lived experience, and we have worked closely with third sector organisations and support providers to ensure those who know the challenges best are at the heart of any action we take. I am keen to hear views from as many people as possible on our proposals. I am confident that, together, we can build a fairer Scotland for all.”


Heather Gilchrist, a member of Enable’s National Self-Advocacy Forum, said:

“The launch of this consultation is a welcome step on a path which must lead to a new law in this Parliament to protect the rights of people with learning disabilities. For too long, people with learning disabilities have not in reality had equal rights in our society. We have fewer chances in education, to find work, and to access the social care and support we need to live the life we choose.  Existing laws and policies have not fixed this, so we need new legislation to help achieve a truly equal society for people with learning disabilities.

“We are pleased the Scottish Government agrees and has promised a new law to protect our rights. We need a Commissioner role with the powers to hold public bodies to account when our rights are not being respected and to make sure everyone knows how we can be fully included in our communities.”

Rights Now!

Visit these links to learn more about the Rights Now campaign and the Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill Consultation