Poverty is not inevitable: and disability equality could hold the key to eradicating it


Tressa Burke, chief executive of Glasgow Disability Alliance, looks at how poverty can be reduced

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10th November 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

With child poverty set to soar under universal credit, this week the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to set historic, statutory targets to eradicate child poverty in Scotland, and “transform the prospects of generations to come”.

This cross-party consensus at Holyrood could mark a watershed moment for equality and social justice, at a time when poverty across Scotland has been greatly exacerbated by UK austerity. Disabled people and our households account for almost half of all those living in poverty in the UK. So what does this week’s vote mean for us?

As Joseph Rowntree emphasised, the staggering correlation between disability and poverty means “Disability must be at the centre of poverty reduction”. To eradicate poverty, we must address the specific causes of poverty and inequality faced by disabled children, young people and adults.

This means disability-specific actions should be central to the forthcoming child poverty delivery plan. Furthermore, removing barriers and working to embed disability equality across society will help ensure disabled young people can enjoy the same prospects as their non-disabled peers. The Child Poverty Act must transform disabled children’s prospects too, with all the knock-on benefits that will bring for the rest of society.

Tressa Burke

Tressa Burke

As Gemma, disabled mum to a disabled teenager, describes: “Without a stable income, I can’t look after my son. Without my disability benefits, I can’t feed him or take him out anywhere. If we are stuck at home, struggling with the extra costs of disability, he’ll struggle more at school and his health will deteriorate as well as mine.”

Of GDA’s 4,000 members, 70% live in the top four most deprived areas of Scotland. Disabled Glaswegians have a lot to say about what is needed to eradicate poverty, and transform our prospects.

GDA members have been contributing their insights to help reshape Social Security in Scotland, and build a system founded on dignity, respect and tackling inequality.

For disabled children and adults in Scotland, social security can once again be about levelling the playing field, and enabling us to participate, fulfil our potential and take up opportunities on an equal basis to others.

Minister Angela Constance stated at Holyrood that “poverty is not inevitable”.

Wednesday’s vote fuels our aspirations to eradicate the poverty and exclusion disabled people face, from early years right through our lives. It shows Scotland committing to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality – and strengthens the case for a new conversation on disability poverty as well.

But what can you do to help? 

Help #ChangetheConversation by challenging cheats and scroungers stereotypes when you see, hear or think them. (But remember to keep yourself safe – and report hate crimes )

Share GDA’s manifesto with your councillors and MSPs and ask them to support actions for disability equality.

Help reduce poverty, and improve benefits uptake by spreading these key messages: 

Appeal every sanction, always

Lost out on PIP? Appeal. Always.

Disabled and under 16? Apply for DLA.

Disabled and claiming ESA/JSA? Secure your disability premium Before Universal Credit rolls out (so you can receive ‘transitional support’ while the premiums are phased out).

To find out how you can help tackle barriers disabled people face, contact GDA