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7. To ask the Scottish Government how it supports the participation in cultural and tourism-related activities of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. (S5O-03649)
Inclusion is central to the artistic purpose of all Scottish Government-funded culture bodies, and they all share a desire to communicate with as large and diverse an audience as possible, running a range of associated activities. The public bodies that are responsible for culture and heritage are, of course, also subject to the Equalities Act 2010, and report on progress against objectives frequently.
Inclusive tourism is hugely important for Scotland’s offer as a welcoming destination. VisitScotland runs several programmes that advise about and provide support for inclusive practices that benefit the widest possible range of customers and businesses.
According to the 2018 household survey, the only category of cultural participation in which the participation rate of people with a minor incapacity was higher than that of people without such an incapacity was library attendance. When we look at the attendance of people with long-term health conditions at museums, galleries and historic places, we can see a big gulf between them and other people, particularly for those whose disability has a major impact on their daily life.
The minister will know about Historic Scotland’s admissions policy, which offers no discounts for disabled people but allows a carer to attend for free. The National Museums of Scotland has the same policy. With the new disability assistance system being built on dignity and respect, will the Government explore extending concessions for those on the new benefits, so that disabled people can enjoy our culture and heritage independently and in their own right?
The Scottish Government knows that actions are important in terms of making a difference when it comes to accessibility and the 2010 act and also with regard to ensuring that we are taking forward the disability delivery plan. We need to know that our actions are making a difference, and, where we see that they are not making a difference, we need to do something about that. We will report on progress in relation to the United Nations’ examination of the United Kingdom under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will take place next year, and through the progress reports on the fairer Scotland action plan and the mainstreaming equality policy, both of which are due for publication in 2019.
I note the points that Mr Griffin raises in his question about the application of social security and its relation to the wider questions of the accessibility of cultural activities. The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs and I—as well as, potentially, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People—would welcome any further correspondence that Mr Griffin would like to provide on those points.