THE UK Government must “match Scotland’s ambition” on global disability aid projects ahead of an international summit.

The SNP has called for Westminster to triple the number of aid projects that have disability inclusion as their primary objective by 2023 to coincide with the Global Disability Summit, which runs until Thursday.

Disabled people make up one billion of the global population and are disproportionately impacted by poverty, natural disasters, healthcare barriers and pandemics. But only six of the 1161 aid programmes funded by the UK Government had disability inclusion as their primary objective in 2018.

The Scottish Government’s plan, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People which ran from 2016 to 2021, saw Scotland enshrining the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into Scots Law.

The plan’s ambitions were to support services that meet people's needs and promote independent living; provide decent incomes; ensure places are accessible to everyone and to protect the rights of disabled people.

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World Vision has reported that 20% of the world’s poorest live with a disability, with 70% of disabled people globally living in the Asia and Pacific Region.

Marion Fellows, the SNP spokesperson for disabilities, said: “After already falling way behind in commitments in the Global Nutrition and Education Summits last year, the UK Government must not make the same mistake again.

“They must use the upcoming Global Disability Summit to commit to tripling the number of FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] aid projects that have disability inclusion as their primary objective by 2023 and prioritise grassroots disability aid projects.”

She went on to urge the UK Government to reverse its decision to cut foreign aid by around £6.2 billion to just 0.5%. In July it was reported that the Treasury will only reverse the cut when the UK is no longer borrowing for day-to-day spending and underlying debt is falling, which may not be until after the 2024 election.

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“The Tory UK Government must also reverse its shameful £6.2 billion worth of aid cuts. Whilst every other G7 member responded to the pandemic by increasing aid, the UK was alone in choosing to cut it,” Fellows continued.

“In recognition of the disproportionate impact poverty, natural disasters, healthcare barriers and Covid-19 have on disabled people, the UK Government must urgently act to include disability in the eligibility criteria for applying for refugee status in the UK.”

She added: “The SNP Scottish Government is doing what it can with its limited powers to tackle inequality for disabled people, including bringing forward world-leading human rights legislation to reduce inequality and advance the rights of everyone and enshrining the UNCRPD into Scots Law.

“However, we need Westminster to act and match Scotland’s ambition if we are to ensure disabled people are not further excluded from global aid. This summit cannot be another missed opportunity filled with empty promises from the UK Government."

This year’s Global Disability Summit will be hosted by the International Disability Alliance and the governments of Norway and Ghana.