Direct payments can help to empower disabled people by giving them more choice and control over the delivery of the community care and children's services that they need. On 1 June, we introduced provisions that will make direct payments more widely available to disabled people.
If I could indulge you for one more second, Presiding Officer, I understand that this is a landmark day for Ms Alexander. I will not be so ungracious as to say which landmark day it is, but I take this opportunity to wish her many happy returns. [Applause.]
Thank you. I am certainly well into the second half of my three score years and ten.
As the minister is well aware, disabled people have to draw on a variety of services at different stages, whether they be provided by Communities Scotland, in the case of housing, or by health boards or local authorities. In that respect, a variety of organisations have sprung up in Scotland in recent years. Organisations such as the Disabled Persons Housing Service provide an excellent service, and there is an example of such a service in my area of Renfrewshire. I am anxious that the minister give an indication that he would encourage health boards and other statutory agencies to support those voluntary organisations that assist people with disabilities, most notably organisations such as the Disabled Persons Housing Service.
I am more than happy to give that reassurance. The Executive fully recognises the contribution that such organisations make. I would strongly encourage health boards and local authorities to engage in discussions to ensure that they can make their contribution to the proper funding of those bodies. The organisation in Ms Alexander's constituency was previously funded by Communities Scotland, which I know fully recognises the work that the organisation has done. I know that Communities Scotland is prepared to work with its staff to identify longer-term sources of income.
I join the minister in wishing Wendy Alexander many happy returns—although she is some years away from suffering the particular disability that is known as deafness. Could the minister tell me where we are with the decision made in the partnership agreement to proceed with the issuing of digital hearing aids throughout Scotland?
As Jamie Stone knows, a report on audiology services in Scotland was produced earlier this year. That whole service is being
It is important that people with specific experience of disability are represented on such groups. It is also important to have a wide breadth of experience from all sectors of society, so that people can bring different talents to ensure that services are delivered in the best possible way, that disabled people have proper access to those services and that their concerns can be expressed properly.