New schemes to support disabled people to live independently and find work have been launched by the Scottish Government.
The first wave of the Scottish Independent Living Fund will provide £5m of short term awards to support young disabled people between 16 and 21 with their transition to adult services and to maintain a focus on their own personal goals.
This is on top of an existing £47.2m a year of support provided to 2,600 Scottish ILF users.
Meanwhile a media campaign has been launched to encourage businesses to recognise the benefits of employing disabled people.
This includes an ongoing internship programme run by Inclusion Scotland which will now also be aimed at private sector employers.
Both schemes form part of the Scottish Government’s Disability Action Plan which was launched in December.
The Scottish Independent Living Fund was launched in 2015, following the UK Government’s closure of the previous UK ILF scheme.
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said: “Disabled people must be given the support they need to live the life they choose.
“Our Disability Action Plan lists 93 actions to transform the lives of disabled people in Scotland and that includes actions setting out to tackle the inequalities and barriers faced by disabled young people, including tackling social isolation and improving lives at points of transition.”
Only around 40 per cent of working age disabled adults are in employment, compared with more than 80 per cent of adults with no disability.
On the media campaign, Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “People with disabilities already make a significant contribution to our economy, however far too many simply aren’t given the opportunity. Businesses risk missing out on talent that can add real value to their organisations, which is an issue we must address.
“By highlighting the clear benefits of diverse recruitment practices, we believe more small business can help ensure a greater proportion of disabled people can become valued employees. I would encourage all SMEs to get involved and find out more.”
Inclusion Scotland will carry out initial assessments and appraisals for internship candidates and will provide on-going support through the lifetime of the internship, which will involve paid employment.