Just one week left to have your say

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​Shirley-Anne Somerville wants the public's views on disability assistance benefits 

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28th May 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

There is only one week left for people to tell us their views on Scotland’s new disability assistance benefits.

Our consultation closes this Tuesday, and I would like to encourage people to contribute and help us create a benefits system that is different from what has come before. Something better – something built on the basis of dignity, fairness and respect. 

From the get go, our approach to creating this new service has been all about doing this with people – not for them. 

We do this by talking to and – importantly - listening to many individuals, organisations and groups with direct and personal experience of the current UK welfare system.

 

We have outlined our commitments on disability assessments which include a significant reduction in face to face assessments and an end to unnecessary reassessments. Where they are necessary, appointments will be at a suitable time and venue, and they won’t be carried out by the private sector. 

But the work doesn’t stop. The success of the new public service we are building depends on all of us continuing to work together.

Since this consultation opened in early March, I have taken met stakeholders and people who would use this service directly. 

These views will help to shape the further legislation required to introduce Scotland’s disability benefits

What I have heard loud and clear so far is that they want a social security system that they can trust – by gathering the right information, by listening to the people who know them best and doing all of that in a transparent and compassionate way.

These views will help to shape the further legislation required to introduce Scotland’s disability benefits. And we are already putting them to good use by factoring them in to the ongoing work to design our new service. 

This includes things like work to redesign application processes to make them as clear and straightforward as possible and looking at ways in which we can move the burden of collecting information from the client to Social Security Scotland.

I have seen the mess the DWP has made when transferring people to Personal Independence Paymentsand introducing Universal Credit, and we will not make the same mistakes. I know we need to get this right from the start. 

There is much hard work to be done but the prize is great. Delivering disability assistance in Scotland offers us an opportunity to have a positive impact on a huge number of people who contribute significantly to our communities, adding talent, diversity and richness to our society. Many are restricted in their life choices because of the barriers put in their way. We have the opportunity to remove some of these barriers and help people secure the financial support that they need to aid day-to-day life.

Shiley-Anne Somerville is cabinet secretary for social security and older people