Call to create independent disability commissioner in Scotland

The commissioner would seek to help 'safeguard and promote' the rights of disabled people in Scotland.

Call to create independent disability commissioner in Scotland iStock

More must be done “urgently” to support disabled people across society, an MSP has said.

The call was made by Scottish Conservative Jeremy Balfour, who is pushing for the creation of a new independent disability commissioner.

Balfour, who is the party’s spokesman on social security and disabilities, has suggested the commissioner would help to “safeguard and promote” the rights of disabled people in Scotland.

And he indicated that it would help to give people with a disability “someone to turn to” if they face difficulties or discrimination.

The principles of a Bill being brought forward by Balfour have gained support from disability groups and charities.

A consultation on the proposal will run from 12 weeks until August 3 this year.

A Bill is being brought forward by Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour. (Scottish Parliament TV) STV News

Balfour has urged people across the country to respond to the consultation.

“From public facilities to Government employment schemes, the needs of disabled people had been neglected and overlooked by the SNP for years even before the pandemic,” he said.

“We must urgently do more to support disabled people in our society.

“An independent disability commissioner would help safeguard and promote the rights of disabled people in Scotland and give people with any kind of disability someone to turn to if they face difficulties or discrimination.

“I urge Scots to respond to the consultation so that we can ensure our proposals fully reflect the views of the Scottish public – and I hope that this much-needed Bill will receive cross-party support when it eventually comes before parliament.”

Emma Walker, director of charity Camphill Scotland, welcomed the launch of the consultation.

“There are now more barriers to equal citizenship for disabled people than ever before. We urgently need to prioritise the voices and experiences of disabled people, their families and unpaid carers.

“That’s why we welcome the consultation for the Disability Commissioner Bill, and I urge everyone to ensure that their voice is heard.”

Director of MS Society Scotland Morna Simpkins added: “A disability commissioner has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of people with MS in Scotland.

“We are grateful to Jeremy Balfour MSP for bringing forward this proposal and look forward to responding to it.”