Disabled Scots forced to choose between eating and breathing, UN committee told

Disabled Scots forced to make 'stark choices' over whether and how often to use medical equipment as living costs soar.

Disabled Scots forced to choose between eating and breathing, UN committee told iStock

Disabled people in Scotland are forced to choose between “eating and breathing” due to Government inaction, human rights campaigners have warned.

The Scottish Independent Living Coalition (SILC) has produced a report on behalf of the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to warn the United Nations of the “unrelenting attacks” disabled Scots face on their human rights.

Campaigners warned there has been little to no improvement from Government ministers since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was first published in 2016.

The commission will meet in Geneva on Monday to discuss the new reports, including an 84-page evidence paper from the United Kingdom Independent Mechanism made up of human rights organisations across the UK.

The SILC report warns of the increasing cost-of-living concerns facing disabled Scots, with some forced to make “stark choices” on whether and how often to use medical equipment and assistive technologies, with some making the choice between “eating and breathing, putting their health at risk with the inevitable consequence of being forced to go into hospital or residential care”.

The submission went on to say: “Disabled people have been experiencing unrelenting attacks on their human rights and it is SILC’s view that the situation for disabled people overall in Scotland has not got any better since the 2016 inquiry.

“The root cause of all of these outcomes is a lack of meaningful consideration of, or deliberate disregard for, disabled people’s rights not only by Government, but by services and society in general.”

Campaigners say disabled experiencing 'unrelenting attacks on their human rights'STV News

The report makes a series of recommendations to the Scottish Government as it warns of damning cuts to social care support in Scotland during Covid-19 still having a “devastating” effect on those impacted three years later.

It comes as the UN committee is set to review how governments across the UK have progressed with recommendations from the 2016 inquiry, where it warned of “grave or systemic violations” of disabled people’s human rights.

Recommendations from SILC include calls to reopen the independent living fund for new applicants in Scotland and an urgent energy subsidy for health equipment.

Jan Savage, executive director of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “The Scottish Human Rights Commission is highlighting real concerns to the UN that the situation for disabled people overall in Scotland has not got better and there is an urgent need to address the barriers that disabled people face, and the cumulative impact of these.

“The Scottish Government has not done enough to ensure disabled people’s human rights are fully realised and we are pushing for protection of disabled people’s rights to employment, independent living and an adequate standard of living.”

Dr Jim Elder-Woodward, independent chair of the Scottish Independent Living Coalition, said: “The current cost-of-living crisis, in which the price of goods and services outpace the rise of income, comes after a decade of devastating cuts in public services, which support disabled people in the community.

“Our place in society has been further jeopardised by a pandemic response, which did not prioritise our human rights, and an approach to economic recovery that does not value us.

“The Scottish Independent Living Coalition (SILC) acknowledges the Scottish Government’s commitment to realising human rights, but maintains that this is not the reality for disabled people on today’s day-to-day basis. The UN Committee’s review of the 2016 inquiry is a timely reminder of the stark inequalities still experienced by disabled people in Scotland today.”Show less

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