Scots to be entitled to bring supporter when claiming benefits

Written by Jenni Davidson on 19 January 2018 in News

The Scottish Government will amend the Social Security (Scotland) Bill to give a right to a supporter

Social security minister Jeane Freeman - Image credit: Scottish Parliament TV

Scots benefits claimants are to be given a right to have a supporter with them when the new Scottish social security system kicks in later this year.

The Scottish Government is to lodge an amendment to Social Security (Scotland) Bill that will allow anyone applying for social security under Scotland’s new system to bring a friend or family member to meetings and assessments.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman said this was proof that Scotland was going to “do things differently”.

The Scottish Parliament will gain control of 11 benefits including personal independence payments (PIP), disability living allowance, carer’s allowance, funeral payments and winter fuel payments later this year.

Legislation to set up a new social security agency for Scotland has already been passed at stage one by the Scottish Parliament and is currently being considered in more detail by committees, before any amendments are voted on by the Scottish Parliament at stage two.

The agency will have its main office in Dundee, with a second office in Glasgow.

Freeman said: “We know the current DWP system can make people nervous about health assessments when accessing benefits.

“People can feel that instead of being about assessing needs and what support is necessary, assessments can feel like a barrier to accessing benefits and help.

“We don’t want people’s experience to be like that so we will not replicate the current system when disability benefits are devolved.

“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.”

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