Advocacy service helps 550 disabled people access social security benefits in first year

Advocacy service helps 550 disabled people access social security benefits in first year

Ben Macpherson MSP

A free independent advocacy service to support disabled people to access Scottish Government benefits has marked its first year in operation.

The Scottish Government is investing more than £20 million to deliver this service over the course of four years. This independent service is available to people with a disability who may need extra support. This could include people with a sensory disability, mental health condition or learning disability. The service is also available to parents or carers who need support to access benefits for a child.

The service, which was introduced in January 2022, enables disabled people to be more involved in the processes and decisions which affect them and advocates will provide the most appropriate form of support to each individual based on their circumstances.

Minister for social security Ben Macpherson said: “I am delighted that, in its first year, the Independent Advocacy Service has supported over 550 people applying for Scottish Government social security benefits.

“The service is a key part of our human rights approach to social security and how the values of dignity, fairness and respect in our social security system work in practice.

“The service helping disabled people to access the financial support they are entitled to, and is delivering on our commitment to make our system as inclusive as possible.

“With the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest more than £20 million in it, the advocacy service will be able to assist even more disabled people access the help they are entitled to over the coming years.”

CEO of VoiceAbility, Jonathan Senker, said: “Over our first year of delivering the Independent Advocacy Service, people tell me that it enabled them to apply for social security benefits when before they felt daunted by the process. They say that advocates supported them to express themselves openly, when previously they felt obliged to ‘put on a brave face’ or underplay their needs.

“It’s vital that people can access the benefits to which they are entitled. I am proud of VoiceAbility’s skilled team of advocates, who are ready and available to support disabled people across Scotland. I encourage anyone who thinks an advocate could help them to access benefits to contact us. We’re here on the phone, online and in-person to make sure you’re heard when it matters.”

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