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Building transitions plans into Scots law

Camphill Scotland’s Robert McGeachy and Bill Scott set out why the reintroduction of the Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) (Scotland) Bill has the power to give young disabled people the same opportunities to achieve their life’s ambitions as their non-disabled peers.

Pam Duncan Glancy MSP has re-introduced the Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of many campaigners including Camphill Scotland and Inclusion Scotland. The Bill was previously introduced in the last session of the Scottish Parliament but ran out of time due to the Scottish Parliament elections.

The Bill aims to improve outcomes for disabled children and young people in the transition to adulthood by:

  • Requiring the Scottish Government to introduce, and to implement, a National Transitions Strategy
  • Requiring the Scottish Government to assign a Cabinet Secretary or junior Minister special responsibility for overseeing implementation of the legislation and the National Strategy
  • Placing a duty on local authorities to introduce a transitions plan for each disabled child and young person to ensure that they receive appropriate care and support before, and during, their transition to adulthood.

Evidence from a range of sources underlines the poor outcomes for many disabled children and young people in the transition to adulthood. This includes the lack of positive destinations in employment, training and in education.

Breaking down barriers

There is currently no statutory requirement to ensure that disabled children and young people are fully supported in their transition to adulthood. This has a major negative impact upon the lives of many disabled children and young people.

For example, one of the impairment groups least likely to make a successful transition to adult life are young learning disabled people. According to recent Fraser of Allander Institute research “the most recent data shows that of the 23,584 adults with a learning disability known to Scottish local authorities, only 4.1% were known to be in employment. These figures are backed up by very similar data collected in the same way by local authorities in England, and it is striking how little these figures have changed over time”.

In terms of how this may impact on health, women with a learning disability have an 18-year lower life expectancy than the general population, whilst men with a learning disability have a 14-year lower life expectancy. They are also eight times more likely to develop a severe mental illness, and five times more likely to develop dementia.

Equalising ambitions and outcomes

Without ongoing and fully supported transitions plans, large numbers of disabled children and young people will continue to be deprived of opportunities to fulfil their potential, and to make the most of their lives.

Introducing transitions plans through this legislation will help to ensure that the opportunities available to disabled children and young people to access, opportunities in employment, training and in education are significantly increased.

Until now, young disabled people have been failed by a system that is supposed to support them. These plans, alongside a national transitions strategy led by a Minister responsible for transitions, seek to ensure that young disabled people are given the same opportunities to achieve their life’s ambitions as their non-disabled peers.

Who could argue against that?

Bill Scott is the Senior Policy Adviser at Inclusion Scotland

Robert McGeachy is the Policy and Engagement Manager at Camphill Scotland

Click here for more about Camphill Scotland:
https://www.camphillscotland.org.uk/

Click here for more about Inclusion Scotland:
https://inclusionscotland.org/

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