Bill amendment to ensure extra support for social security applicants
Anyone applying for social security assistance under Scotland’s new system will have a right to have someone with them during assessments or meetings, under new plans by the Scottish Government.
In a change from the current system, the amendment to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill lodged by social security minister Jeane Freeman would ensure any applicant has the right to be accompanied if they need or want it.
The minister described the step as proof that Scotland would “do things differently”.
Ms 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.”