The time has come to ensure every disabled child with an impairment or long-term health condition has a right to a transition plan. I am even more committed to this following a lengthy and extensive consultation on my proposed Disabled Children and Young People (Transitions) Bill.

The current lack of a statutory requirement to ensure children and young people with a disability are fully supported in the transition to adulthood is having a major negative impact. As a former teacher I know only too well about the challenges faced by disabled youngsters in moving on into further and higher education or finding work or training. This is such an important time for all young people as they move from school to further or higher education, to an apprenticeship or into work. However, for disabled young people it is all too often a time where their ability to achieve their full potential is denied and learning new skills or furthering their education becomes a dream beyond their reach. This should be utterly unacceptable. And yet it is still reality for far too many families.

Since 2008 the percentage of Scottish disabled people in employment has fallen. Without ongoing and fully supported transitions plans large numbers of disabled children and young people are being deprived of opportunities to fulfil their potential, and to make the most of their lives. It is not only they who are being robbed of their potential, but we as a society who are being robbed of the contribution that they desperately want to make.

At present although every child is entitled to a Child’s Plan, under the Children and Young People’s Act 2014, there is no statutory requirement to put in place ongoing and fully supported transitions plans for disabled children and young people in their transition to adulthood. Nor do young disabled people have a right to ongoing support with their transition to adulthood after they have left school. As a result, the transitions for many disabled children and young people are often extremely challenging, and consistently deliver poor outcomes for the children and young people.

Research shows that people who are workless are more likely to have poorer health and lower life expectancy than those with meaningful and fulfilling work. But according to the National Audit Office, supporting a young disabled person into work could increase their income by between 55% to 95%, thus reducing the risk of poverty and poorer health.

My proposal aims to place statutory duties on Ministers to introduce a National Transitions Strategy, and to assign to a member of the Scottish Government, or to a junior Minister, special responsibility in relation to the exercise of their functions under this Act. The proposal also aims to give additional rights to support to disabled children and young people by placing a statutory duty on local authorities to prepare and introduce a transitions plan for each disabled child/young person within the local authority area to improve outcomes in their transition to adulthood. The Bill would also create a statutory right to support in transition planning for disabled children and young people and their families.

The Transitions Plan should consider all of the relevant aspects of a child’s/young person’s life including, but not limited to plans to, enhance opportunities including education, employment, training, health, financial affairs, housing, leisure, citizenship and independent living. The National Transitions Strategy, and appointing a Minister with responsibility for transitions, will underline the priority being given by the Scottish Government to supporting disabled children and young people.

My proposed Bill is making its way through the parliamentary process and currently has the support of all parties except the SNP. I hope by the time that the deadline comes round on 17 July we will have their support. I believe this Bill will improve outcomes for children and young people with a disability in the transition to adulthood. Having the right support at this crucial time will deliver enormous benefits for young people, their families and their communities.


If you think that young people with a disability need more support to transition into adulthood please contact your MSPs and ask them to sign up to support my Bill before 17 July.