Landmark reforms to disability payments “will reduce anxiety and stress” experienced by claimants and signal the end of private sector involvement in the assessment process, the Scottish Government has claimed.
A consultation found that Scottish Government proposals for a “person-centred approach” was favoured over the current “one-size-fits-all” system of the UK Government, with the Scottish Government claiming the new system will have “fairness, dignity and respect” and its heart.
Among the measures proposed in the consultation includes a pledge to strip private companies of their contracts for carrying out face-to-face disability assessments, as the latest official statistics show that a record number of decisions are being over-turned on appeal.
Other proposals include pre-application support, clear eligibility criteria so that claimants understand from day one what is required to qualify, a simplified application form, and greater choice and control over the timing and locations of assessment (including home visits).
The current system run by the UK Government has been widely criticised for being overly stressful and complicated. Assessment reports are often inaccurate and face-to-face disability assessments are in many cases unnecessary when deciding eligibility.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I have heard from far too many ill and disabled people who currently know only of stigma, stress and anxiety when it comes to accessing welfare support and fear the ‘dreaded brown envelope’ from the Department for Work and Pensions.
“That is why I want a sea change in accessing disability payments. A new system designed from the ground up – together with users themselves – that puts people first.
“We are supporting people to access the financial support they are entitled to and actively seeking to move away from the stigma of benefits to recognise they are an investment in our people.
“That means a process that is clear and accessible from start to finish and ensures people understand how and when their application will be dealt with.
“It is part of our promise to the people of Scotland that our social security system is a public service and will treat everybody with fairness, dignity and respect.”