Disabled people to be offered social security advocacy rights

A right to independent advocacy services is to be extended to more people under Scotland’s new social security service.

Ahead of the final vote on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, the Scottish Government has put forward an amendment that would see services provided to anyone who, because of a disability, needs additional support to engage fully with the Scottish social security system.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “Our social security system will be rights-based and will work to ensure people can access the benefits they’re entitled to.

“To make that a practical reality, we have already ensured that anyone who uses Social Security Scotland will be able to have a supporter with them every step of the way. But it’s also important that we make sure where people have disabilities that may stop them engaging with the system, that they have the right to access advocacy support.

“After working with key third sector organisations, I am pleased to say that I am now improving on our original proposal and will widen the definition to ensure more people have the right to independent advocacy and are able to enjoy the equivalency of access that everyone else has.

“This is one more example of how Scotland’s social security system will embed respect, dignity and fairness at its heart.”

Scottish Commission for Learning Disability chief executive, Chris Creegan, said: “Independent advocacy has an important role alongside a suite of practical measures including accessible information, inclusive communication, effective signposting and the ability to be accompanied by a supporter. This approach will help to embed a culture of dignity and respect in the new agency from the start.”

Inclusion Scotland director of policy, Bill Scott, said: “Inclusion Scotland warmly welcomes the Scottish Government’s recognition that many disabled people will require advocacy support to access the new Scottish Social Security system.”

Citizens Advice Scotland policy officer, Rob Gowans, added: “We welcome this amendment which makes an important contribution to ensuring that disabled people receive what they are entitled to in the new Social Security system. The holistic approach of the CAB network already provides a voice for disabled people, and this amendment will ensure that they are empowered to access the new system and challenge it where necessary.”

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