Scots to get right to be accompanied during hated welfare tests

Med test

Claimants will be allowed to have someone with them during assessment 

19th January 2018 by Robert Armour 3 Comments

Social security legislation will be amended in Scotland to give people the right to have someone with them during welfare assessments.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman said she would amend the current social security bill going through parliament to give applicants the right to be accompanied in meetings.

Ministers have already announced plans to increase carer’s allowance, increase the frequency of universal credit payments and pay rent direct to landlords.

Freeman is to put forward an amendment stipulating that anyone who wishes to do so can have "a supporter" present during any meeting or assessment relating to their benefit entitlements, who can make representations on the applicant's behalf.

Freeman said that at present, assessments "can feel like a barrier to accessing benefits and help", saying the Scottish agency "will not replicate the current system when disability benefits are devolved".

She said: "Under the current system, people who attend assessments aren't able to have someone with them during the assessment.

"I think this runs contrary to our rights-based approach and if we truly want our system to have fairness, dignity and respect at heart then we should give people the right to have a friend or family member - a supporter - with them when they need it.

"We have all been in situations where we could do with a helping hand from someone who knows us, or just a bit of moral support. This is proof that Scotland will do things differently and one of the first ways we can show people we mean exactly what we say."

19th January 2018 by Chrys Muirhead

Just to say that I accompanied my son to DWP PIP & ESA assessments in Dundee 2017 via Atos and Maximus as his Carer and advocate. As far as I'm aware people with disabilities are entitled to have an advocate present to support them in meetings with DWP. Therefore I'm not sure why Scottish Parliament was refusing this before. But I'm not surprised. In my experience the MSPs can talk a good game but they're not so good at doing the business.

19th January 2018 by Peter Dow

Although, thankfully, my social security payments have now been resumed after my successful appeal, I struggled financially for most of 2017 while in receipt of only housing benefit.Sadly, however, I am now facing prosecution in Aberdeen Sheriff Court for writing an email in November 2017 to my elected SNP MSP & councillor (in reply to their letter to me to invite me to meet with them) to inform them of the dire financial straits I was in.So out of the destitution frying pan into the dock fire. ___ "Dear Peter Dow, .... Please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel I can be of any assistance in future. Yours sincerely, Kevin Stewart MSP Aberdeen Central" ___ Yet I was arrested for the email I sent to contact Mr Stewart!Maybe I would have been wiser to "hesitate", regardless of Mr Stewart's invitation? I have documented these strange events on my blog at http://peter-dow.blogspot.co.uk/

19th January 2018 by Sarah Glynn

While the assessors in the current system are not always aware of their own rules, DWP guidelines make it clear that companions are allowed, and it is important that people are aware of and insist on their rights. Here is the relevant section from the DWP Guidance document for assessors. Sarah Glynn (for the Scottish Unemployed Workers' Network) Companions at consultations Claimants should be encouraged to bring another person with them to consultations where they would find this helpful – for example, to reassure them or to help them during the consultation. The person chosen is at the discretion of the claimant and might be, but is not limited to, a parent, family member, friend, carer or advocate. Consultations should predominantly be between the HP and the claimant. However, the companions may play an active role in helping claimants answer questions where the claimant or HP wishes them to do so. This may be particularly important where the claimant has a mental, cognitive or intellectual impairment. In such cases the claimant may not be able to give an accurate account of their health condition or impairment, through a lack of insight or unrealistic expectations of their own ability. In such cases it will be essential to get an accurate account from the companion. However, the involvement of companions should be at the discretion of the HP. It is essential that the HP’s advice is based on the claimant’s actual circumstances and not the companion’s views on these. If the presence of a companion becomes disruptive to the consultation, the HP may ask them to leave. However, this should be avoided wherever possible.HPs should use their judgement about the presence of a third party during any functional examination. Both the claimant and the HP should agree to companions being in the room for an examination. Companions should take no part in examinations unless the HP asks them, for example, to help the claimant with their garments.The presence of any companion at a consultation should be recorded in the assessment report