MY name is Stephen Cruickshank, I have a disability and I am also a father of one. I am a volunteer board director for Scottish Disability Equality Forum.

The Chancellor announced that disability benefit could be excluded from any freeze. However, there is a large degree of scepticism because cuts will be achieved by other means.

We have already seen the impact and worry that the bedroom tax had on disabled people where they were being taxed for rooms used for equipment storage and not as bedrooms.

The Chancellor stated that people who have been ill for some time must be looking for work when they are on the road to recovery.

I would suggest that this would put additional pressure on people who have already been through a difficult time health-wise and subject them to additional stress and worry.

As with many other families, disabled families will be subjected to a £20,000 benefits cap and the reduction of working tax credits. So families with more than two children will be affected because tax credits will be stopped.

What concerns disabled people more than anything else is ongoing reductions through austerity and those being suffered by local authorities which mean an erosion of infrastructure and support services that many disabled people rely upon to continue to live independent lives.

Should these services be lost it would mean that more disabled people would not be able to live independently and put further strain on hard-pressed local budgets.

Loss of services does not only affect the disabled person but their immediate family and communities, making and impact far wider than is generally published.

I feel the manner in which disabled people are being portrayed at the moment is responsible for an increase in the levels of hate crime and abuse against the disabled. In some quarters they are seen as scroungers.

However, this is far from the truth I myself undertake voluntary work in my community, undertaking access and equality audits across my region to ensure inclusion for everyone in my community. This does not only affect disabled people, but also the elderly and mothers with young children.

Obviously disabled people are affected by changes made in the budget in much the same way as the rest of the population. While I welcome the additional money promised for the NHS, I hope that this will be used to fund appropriate services and not to prop up ailing hospitals and boards.


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Foodbanks: ‘Economic security’ is an alien concept to many of those who use our services

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Child poverty: Child poverty ... Measures will do precious little for the poorest families in Scotland

Housing: Pushing those already suffering further into poverty