2021 Scottish Parliament Election: What are Political Parties Pledging for Disabled People?

The Scottish Parliament election will take place on 6 May 2021 and is the process by which MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) are elected to represent the people of Scotland at Holyrood. The Scottish Parliament has the power to make decisions and pass laws in certain areas, known as devolved matters. This includes areas such as health, education and economic development.

Voting Information

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on 6 May (‘polling day’). Postal ballots must be received by 22:00 on polling day.

Your poll card

You should have already received a poll card telling you when to vote and at which polling station. You can only vote at the polling station location on your card. If you have not received a poll card but think you should, contact your local Electoral Registration Office here: https://www.gov.uk/contact-electoral-registration-office

You can still vote if you’ve lost your poll card, and you don’t need to bring it to the polling station to vote. You do not need to bring identification to vote.

You can vote:

  • in person at a polling station
  • by post
  • by asking someone else to vote for you (voting by proxy)
  • You cannot vote online in any elections.

Voting if you have a disability

If you have a disability, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about:

  • physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces
  • low-level polling booths
  • equipment for voters with a visual impairment
  • Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper and a special tactile voting device (TVD) to help people with sight loss.

At the polling station

Because of COVID-19, there will be safety measures in place at polling stations to help you vote safely (for example, a one-way system or restrictions on the number of people allowed in).

If you choose to vote in person, make sure you:

  • wear a face covering (unless you’re exempt)
  • bring your own pen or pencil (there will be clean pencils available at the polling station if you forget to bring your own)
  • use the hand sanitiser provided when entering and leaving the polling station
  • keep to social distancing guidelines

Manifesto for Change

At Disability Equality Scotland, we are calling on political parties to commit to the 10 priorities featured in our Manifesto for Change.

Our CEO Morven Brooks commented on the Manifesto, which was co-produced with Disability Equality Scotland members:

“Disabled people need to be involved at every stage in decisions that affect them. Our priorities are a step towards this, but we need more commitment across politics to make real change for disabled people in Scotland.”

Manifesto Tracker

A manifesto is a publication issued by a political party before an election. It contains the set of policies that the party stands for and would wish to implement if elected to govern. When political parties publish their manifestos, they should make sure accessible formats are available at the same time.

We have created a Manifesto Tracker to highlight the accessible formats of manifestos published by the five political parties elected in the last Scottish Parliament. We will continue to update the tracker when the formats become available.

At Disability Equality Scotland, we work in partnership with Sense Scotland to host the Inclusive Communication Hub (www.inclusivecommunication.scot), a website dedicated to inclusive communication information and resources.

Party Manifestos

We have summarised what the main political parties are pledging for disabled people in their manifestos.  This only takes into account commitments included in their official published manifestos, not individual statements given by candidates during speeches, Hustings events or online channels such as Facebook/Twitter.

The summaries are listed in order of publication date.

Scottish Greens

“Our society, our economy and our public services create the barriers disabled people face to full participation, and removing those barriers must be a priority for every level of government.”

The Scottish Greens have released their 2021 Manifesto, ‘Our Common Future’. A full list of accessible versions of their manifesto is available here: https://greens.scot/ourfuture/downloads

The manifesto is available in Audio, British Sign Language (BSL). Easy Read, Gaelic, Large Print, Plain Text. It is not available in Braille

Find out about Scottish Greens disability policies within their ‘Equalities’ section, here: https://greens.scot/ourfuture/equalities

For disabled people, the Scottish Greens have committed to:

  • Support incorporation of the UN Convention on Rights of Disabled People into Scots Law.
  • Ensure the Scottish Government is an exemplar of good practice in removing the barriers disabled people face in employment
  • Ensure disabled people benefit from the Young Person’s Guarantee and have a role in designing employability support schemes
  • Deliver an inclusive education system so that disabled children and young people receive appropriate care and support before, and during, the transition to adulthood.
  • Make inclusive communication the norm for the Scottish Government to ensure that everyone, including disabled people, can access the information they need in the right formats.
  • We will increase the provision of BSL training places in Scotland’s education institutions and workplaces.
  • Create a town and city centre green transformation fund to re-orient towns and cities towards children, elderly and disabled people
  • Increase support for apprenticeships and ensure they pay at least the living wage regardless of age, work to break gender stereotypes, and increase opportunities for disabled people and people from minority ethnic groups
  • Institute a review of Disability Assistance and Carer’s Assistance, and look at introducing a Carers Recognition Payment
  • Immediately increase the Carer’s Allowance top-up to £105 a week, and double the Young Carer Grant to £600 a year
  • Support calls to remove barriers for people with disabilities to play, learn, compose and perform music, and to create drama training pathways for people with learning disabilities.

Scottish National Party (SNP)

“Our vision is an independent Scotland that is more equitable and inclusive for all. With the full powers of independence, Scotland will have control over the necessary economic and legislative levers to ensure that disabled people can fully participate in public life and enjoy the same kinds of opportunities and choices that so many people take for granted.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP) have released their manifesto, “Scotland’s Future, Scotland’s Choice”, as well as a series of one-minute videos, regional manifestos for each region of Scotland, and sectoral manifestos for each part of society.

A full list of accessible versions of their manifesto is available here: https://www.snp.org/manifesto/

The manifesto is available in Audio, Braille, British Sign Language (BSL), Easy Read, Gaelic and Large Print.

Find out about the SNP’s disability policies here: https://manifesto21.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/Disability.pdf

For disabled people, the SNP have committed to:

  • Bring forward world-leading human rights legislation to reduce inequality and advance the rights of everyone
  • Introduce an overarching Scottish Diversity and Inclusion Strategy covering the public sector, our educational institutions, justice system, transport and workplaces
  • Increase frontline NHS spending by at least 20% to support and renew our NHS as it recovers from Covid-19, with an increase of at least 25% in primary care funding
  • lntroduce a National Transitions to Adulthood Strategy to ensure there is a joined up approach to supporting our disabled young people
  • Bring forward a Learning Disability, Autism and Neurodiversity Bill
  • Create a National Care Service for all, increasing public investment by 25%
  • Build a fairer Social Security system, with the introduction of a Child and Adult Disability Payment later this year
  • Champion fairer employment, by increasing specific support for disabled parents into work
  • Improving the accessibility of transport
  • Increasing the supply and choice of accessible and adapted homes and introduce a new Scottish Accessible Homes Standard
  • Doubling the Carers Allowance Supplement payment, and introduce an improved Carers Assistance payment to replace carers allowance
  • Improve representation through a disability Leadership and Development Programme, and offer financial assistance to disabled people contesting in Scottish elections

Scottish Liberal Democrats

“Disabled people have been badly treated. The pandemic restrictions reinforced the isolation experienced by many. Disabled people are often subject to violence, discrimination and abuse just for being who they are.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have released their manifesto, “Put Recovery First”. A full list of accessible versions of their manifesto is available here: https://www.scotlibdems.org.uk/manifesto

The manifesto is available in Audio, Easy Read, and Plain Text. It is not available in Braille, British Sign Language (BSL) or Large Print.

For disabled people, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have committed to:

  • The principle that future emergency legislation must not remove fundamental rights from disabled people
  • Design education that is inclusive for all, and give each disabled child and disabled young person appropriate support in the transition to adulthood
  • Incorporate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into Scots law
  • New pay audits to ensure fair opportunities for people from ethnic minorities and disabled people
  • Work with employers to encourage them to adopt flexible working arrangements which address the barriers to employment faced by disabled people.
  • Make disabled people a priority group for access to the young person’s job guarantee, and include disabled people in the design of employability support schemes
  • Put in place specialist employability programmes to enable more people with visual impairment to find work, including through new apprenticeship schemes for blind and partially sighted people
  • Give every child or young person with a disability or long-term health condition the right to a transitions plan to help with their move from child to adult services.
  • Uphold the human rights of learning-disabled children with new statutory guidance to eliminate the unnecessary use of restraint and seclusion in schools and children’s services, supported by a comprehensive training plan for families and education staff
  • Consider the case for a commissioner to protect the rights of autistic people and people with learning difficulties
  • Give organisations led by disabled people and advocating on their behalf the opportunity to shape the recovery from the pandemic
  • Champion an education service that is inclusive for each disabled child and disabled young person so that they receive appropriate care and support before, and during, the transition to adulthood.

Scottish Conservative & Unionist

“We will tackle prejudice and discrimination in all forms to ensure no one is held back from succeeding due to their race, sexuality, gender, religion or disability.”

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party have released their manifesto, “Rebuild Scotland”. Their manifesto is available here: https://www.scottishconservatives.com/policy/manifestos/

The manifesto is available in Audio, British Sign Language (BSL), Easy Read, and Plain Text. It is not available in Braille and Large Print.

For disabled people, the Scottish Conservatives have committed to:

  • Accessibility for disabled passengers should be a condition for bus operators receiving support for any new routes or transition plans
  • We will encourage the future proofing of new-build housing for easier accessibility adaptations
  • Supporting people with disabilities into employment by creating a new government-owned company which provides meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Establish a fundamental review of disability assistance, to deliver a human rights-based system

Scottish Labour

“Disabled people face barriers, inequality and poorer outcomes across all areas of life. Poverty, prejudice, and lack of understanding prevent them from accessing vital services and information.”

Scottish Labour have released their manifesto, “National Recovery Plan”. Their manifesto is available here: https://scottishlabour.org.uk/where-we-stand/national-recovery-plan/

The manifesto is available in audio, Braille, Easy Read, large print and Plain Text.  The manifesto is currently not available in British Sign Language (BSL).

For disabled people, Scottish Labour have committed to:

  • Act immediately to ensure disability assistance in Scotland supports disabled people’s human rights, supported them to have freedom, choice, dignity and control in their lives.
  • A jobs guarantee scheme open to every disabled person who does not have a job, and a Good Work plan which includes radically improving the employment rate of disabled people, including better access to facilities, public services, work, training and apprenticeships.
  • An Equal Access Careers programme to support individuals from groups more at risk of unemployment. It will extend the Job Start Grant to all young disabled people and double the grant to £500 for the young disabled and care leavers.
  • Support establishing an Autism and Learning Disability Commissioner to champion the human rights of autistic people, our neurodiverse communities, and people with a learning disability.
  • Strengthen epilepsy services, including establishing an epilepsy database, more specialist nurses, staff training and measures to encourage employment in people with neurological conditions
  • The Scottish Government and each education authority should have an inclusion strategy in line with the UN Committee’s advice on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
  • At least £5 a week supplement per child to families with disabled children or parents. We will ensure Disability Assistance is paid at an adequate rate to cover the extra costs associated with disability.
  • An end to private sector Disability Assistance assessments; remove the rule which dictates that you require support at least 50% of the time; and grant ‘ongoing entitlements’ for people whose conditions are unlikely to change.
  • Develop a Disability Poverty Target, with interim goals and sufficient funding to ensure aims are met.
  • A national strategy for housing and disabled persons, led by a disabled persons organisation. The strategy will include a 10% target for new social housing, with properties which are fully accessible both within the home and externally
  • Create a fund to support the development of Changing Places Toilets in public spaces and businesses across the country
  • Include the Principles of Inclusive Communication into all our strategies and services.
  • Continue to promote the Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions to Adulthood) (Scotland) Bill, which would give a right to a Transitions Plan to every child or young person with an impairment or long-term health condition.
  • On outdoor recreation, investing in activities suitable for older people or those with a disability to reduce social isolation