“Nothing about us, without us”: Disabled people hope for social security dawn


Jeanne Freeman MSP demands “human rights” in face of DWP intransigence

SCOTLAND’s largest disabled people’s organisation has expressed hope in the direction of the Scottish Government’s social security consultation.

Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) chief executive Tressa Burke, told an audience at the closing ceremony for the Scottish Government’s social security consultation that the new system had appropriately involved “people with lived experience” of disability and that the new system “is being built from the ground up”.

The 3,500 strong member-led organisation is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s social security consultation, which has discussed plans by the Scottish Government to redefine the welfare system in regards to the 15 per cent of welfare spending being devolved to Holyrood.



Speaking pointedly about the last six years of Conservative welfare reforms, Burke said: “The new system can only be a success, because it can’t be worse than what we have at the moment.”

“We know the UN report published at the start of this month stated that there had been systematic violations of the UN treaty for disabled people.”

“People with lived experience are involved and the new system [of social security] is being built from the ground up. Only this way will it reflect the need for people to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The general approach for progressive reform in welfare should be led by disabled people, the watchwords being, “Nothing about us, without us”.



The comments were made after a performance by the Purple Poncho Players (PPPs), a disabled people’s musical theatre group, who explore the experiences of discrimination faced by disabled people both at the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions and members of the public.

Speaking at the event, Scottish Government social security minister Jeane Freeman praised the work and GDA and PPP, and slammed the human rights record of the DWP, which has systematically driven disabled people from benefits and into work.

She said: “Disabled people’s rights are human rights. When people are not treated equally we are all diminished.”

Background: DWP chief grilled over new assessment plans for long term disabled

The PPP performance and speeches were organised to mark the end of the social security consultation, which has been taking place since the end of July. Other MSPs attending the event included former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, Conservative MSP for Ayr John Scott and convenor of the social security committee, the SNP’s Sandra White.

When Damian Green visited the committee on 3 November he maintained that sanctions, and even benefit assessments for people with long term conditions, were necessary. The Scottish Government has said it intends to tackle the culture of sanctions and assessments in the welfare system with the new social security powers.

Since 2010, thousands of disabled people have been found fit for work by the DWP, only to go on to die from their conditions.

Pictures: Twitter, Emma Whitelock

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