Independent Advocacy Service celebrates one year anniversary
550 disabled people supported to access Scottish social security benefits.
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.”
The service was introduced in January 2022, ahead of a pilot for Adult Disability Payment – which replaces Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in Scotland. Adult Disability Payment was introduced across Scotland in August 2022.
The service is independent of the Scottish Government and is delivered by VoiceAbility, a charity with 40 years’ experience of delivering independent advocacy services.
The service provides free advocacy to anyone who self-identifies as disabled who requires support to engage effectively with Social Security Scotland.
Advocacy is available throughout the whole of the process for seeking support; from the point of application, through to any request for redetermination and appeals.
People can access this support by contacting VoiceAbility directly for free on 0300 303 1660 or by visiting voiceability.org
People can also access this support by calling Social Security Scotland for free on 0800 182 2222 and asking to be referred to the Independent Advocacy Service.
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