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Disabled Scots ‘have lost ground during recession’

Disabled people in Scotland appear to have suffered more from the recession than non-disabled people, according to a new report by the Scottish government.

The report, Coping with Change and Uncertainty, also says disabled, low-skilled and young unemployed people all have fewer “protective factors” that will help them claw back the ground they have lost during the recession.

The report, which analyses the impact of the recession on Scottish equalities groups, says the unemployment rate for disabled people appears to have risen by about 5.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2010, compared to a rise of 3.7 percentage points for non-disabled people.

But it does say that the impact of the recession on the estimated three-quarters of a million disabled adults in Scotland who are not in work or looking for work “appears to be minor”, although they were “not faring well financially” even before the recession started.

The report also says that disabled people with impairments that limit their ability to work have fared even worse than those disabled people without work-limiting impairments.

During in-depth interviews with 13 disabled people, researchers were told of fears that employers were “reluctant to incur the expense associated with adapting a workplace for disabled workers in an era where budgets are already tight”.

Fears were also raised that “less money and fewer or more expensive support services” could make it harder for disabled people to live independently.

And one participant said his care costs had risen by £20 a month, after he was told by his council: “Basically, we haven’t got any money.”

Although none of those interviewed had experienced cuts to their own hours of support, they “were aware of other disabled people having experienced such cuts”, the report says.

And a blind participant said his library was providing fewer audio books, while his local council had stopped sending him its magazine in an alternative format.

News provided by John Pring at