Scotland to start delivering disability benefit in 2020

By agency reporter
March 1, 2019

Responsibility for all devolved benefits, including their funding, will sit with the Scottish Government from 1 April 2020, with delivery for disability benefits rolled out shortly after.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville today told Parliament how:

  • New claims for disability assistance for children and young people will start in summer 2020
  • Claims for older people’s disability payments will open by the end of 2020
  • Disability benefits for Working Age People – the Scottish replacement of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – will open early in 2021

The system will have a redesigned application process and significantly fewer face to face assessments, which will be carried out through the agency by qualified assessors and audio-recorded as standard. There will be rolling awards with no set end points and those with fluctuating health conditions will not face additional reviews due to regular changes in needs related to their condition. The burden of collecting information will move from the client to Social Security Scotland.

Ms Somerville said: “Since the Social Security Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June last year, progress has been swift. Our first priority was to deliver for carers, and we have already – through the Carer's Allowance Supplement – paid out over £33 million to more than 77,000 carers.

“I have been delighted with the success of Best Start Grant which has put £2.7 million into the pockets of more than 7,000 families in Scotland – more in the first two months of operation than the DWP benefit it replaced paid out in a year.

“Our next priority is delivering payments for disabled people, as this is where we can make the most meaningful difference for the largest number of people. 

“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain. And I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard, many of which criticise the penalising assessment process.”

Around half a million cases – the equivalent of around 10 per cent of people in Scotland – will transfer from DWP to Social Security Scotland next year. Ms Somerville emphasised that the safe and secure transition is central to protecting people and their payments.

She said: “This is not simply a case of turning off one switch and turning on another.  For the first time in its history, our agency will be making regular payments, direct to people’s bank accounts and our systems need to work seamlessly with those of the DWP. 

“It is therefore essential we have a system that is fully operational for those making new claims and ensure we protect everyone and their payments as their cases are transferred – that is what those who rely on social security support have told us they want. We must work to a timetable that reflects the importance of moving quickly but not putting people’s payments at risk.”

Ms Somerville made clear that during the transfer no-one will have to reapply for benefits, no claims will be reassessed and payments will be protected.

She added: “The timetable I have set out is ambitious but realistic and at all points protects people and their payments. I have seen the mess the DWP has made when transferring people to PIP and introducing Universal Credit, and we will not make the same mistakes.    

“There is much hard work to be done but the prize is great – a social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart and which works for the people of Scotland.”

Having last year successfully delivered the Carer's Allowance Supplement and the first Best Start Grant payments, Ms Somerville also confirmed the next two phases of Best Start Grant, a Young Carer Grant and Funeral Expense Assistance were all on track to being delivered this year.

* Scottish Government https://www.gov.scot/

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