Glasgow Disability Alliance

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illustration of a person wearing a hardhat and lanyard and using a wheelchair, next to a person with a crutch on one arm and a small child in the other arm, and a bag of groceries next to them.

Social Security and Poverty

Disabled people are three times more likely to live in poverty, for a whole range of reasons:

  • barriers to employment and fair work, as well as a pay gap
  • barriers in education make it harder for us to gain the same skills and qualifications as our non-disabled peers
  • additional costs of being disabled, including higher bills for fuel and food, costs of vital equipment and accessible transport, charges for social care.
  • barriers to accessing social security. In fact, even the full social security entitlement does not cover the average extra costs disabled people face, according to the New Policy Institute. Their 2016 research found that disabled people and our household members make up 48% of all those living in poverty in the UK.

GDA supports our members to connect with policy makers locally, nationally and at the UK level, to share their vital lived experience of these complex barriers, to help inform and shape anti-poverty strategies and services, and work for change.

Glasgow’s Poverty Leadership Panel

GDA have been involved in Glasgow City Council’s Poverty Leadership Panel (PLP) since its inception, with members dedicating time and and energy over these years, from co-chairing, to driving involvement through the PLP’s Community Activist Panel.

In 2017 our Drivers for Change network highlighted the need for a dedicated, accessible welfare rights project to respond to disabled people’s poverty in the city. Although this suggestion was not voted a priority by the wider PLP, the City Treasurer was compelled to address the gap we had highlighted, and our Rights Now partnership project was born!

Social Security Scotland

After years of campaigning against the UK government’s regressive Welfare Reforms, supporting our members to speak out about the rising inequalities and hardship that have landed on disabled people throughout 12 years of austerity – GDA members have been a driving force behind Scotland’s new Social Security System.

When Scotland first secured devolution of powers over certain Social Security benefits, then Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman met with 350 GDA members at our 2016 Learning Festival, to kick start inclusive discussions on how to build a better Social Security system for Scotland , pledging to approach it ‘from the ground up’, with the help, ideas and lived experience of those using the benefits system. Hear some of our members experiences and priorities in the film below:

4 years later, Social Security Scotland has been founded with dignity, fairness and respect at its core, pledging to ensure the people of Scotland can access their social security entitlements as easily as possible. GDA members and disabled people all across Scotland co-designed a Charter outlining how the new Agency will work to uphold these shared values and principles.

Our partnership work with the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland continues, through ongoing dialogue, user testing, through input to accessibility of publications and materials, members’ participation in the Experience Panels, and our Chief Executive Officer Tressa Burke co-chairing the Disability and Child Benefits Expert Advisory Group.


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