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16 April 2015, 05:00
Campaigners claim one million disabled voters and their families in Scotland could hold the balance of power at the general election.
The Disability Agenda Scotland (DAS) coalition says political parties must commit to delivering real change for disabled people if they want their votes.
At the publication of their joint manifesto today, the DAS coalition of Scotland's six leading disability charities is urging all parties contesting the May 7th election to commit to their vision for a fairer, more inclusive society.
Its manifesto, 'A Million Votes Count: Our Vision for an Equal Future', outlines ten key steps that DAS insists a new Westminster government must take to ensure equality for the one million disabled voters and their families in Scotland.
DAS says the steps could radically improve everything from disability benefits to accessible transport. Its challenge comes as the political parties release their own manifestos this week.
The proposals - developed by service-users across all six DAS member organisations - will be debated at a fully accessible election hustings event in Glasgow on April 27th. People with a range of disabilities will question representatives from the main political parties.
DAS policy group chair Jan Savage said: "The Scottish vote is being courted by all parties in this general election.. In such a tight general election race, Scotland's one million disabled people and their families will have a crucial impact on the outcome at Westminster. Their votes matter and political parties need to commit to deliver real change to get those votes.
"Since the last general election, households with disabled adults and children have experienced a reduction of £1,900 per year in annual income - bad enough, but even more shocking when you know that this is three times the reduction experienced by non-disabled households.
"Faced with a possible £12 billion of further cuts in welfare spending that could hit disabled people and their families hardest, we are calling on political parties to stand up and protect the rights of disabled people in Scotland and throughout the UK.
"We are calling on all parties to commit to our ten key steps to deliver real change for disabled people in areas such as work, welfare, transport and inclusive communication. These are the areas where the government is failing to deliver for disabled people to be full members of society.
"If the leaders of all parties will commit to implementing the ten key steps, it will help bridge the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of equality for many disabled people and their families. It can be done. Our question is - do they have the political will? One million voters in Scotland are watching closely to find out."