Information

Disability assistance in Scotland: response to consultation

Our response to the consultation analysis report about the consultation on disability assistance undertaken between 5 March and 28 May 2019.


Annex: Existing Commitments

As part of the Consultation paper, we set out a number of existing commitments:

You said: We listened:
Assessments

The private sector should not be paid to undertake assessments to assess entitlement to Disability benefits.

People are given little choice about how and when their assessment takes place. They have had to travel for hours to get to assessments, those who are too ill to leave the house have been refused home assessments

There are too many unnecessary assessments - even when it is clear that a condition or disability will not improve.

There is no clear guidance on the role of companions.

People are expected to gather their own supporting evidence, often at a cost to them. It is not clear what evidence people should provide to support their claim.

Assessors are not given enough time to consider evidence before an assessment begins.

Assessment reports are often inaccurate and do not reflect what happens at assessment.

Recordings should be available for audit purposes
The private sector will not undertake assessments. Social Security Scotland will deliver assessments to determine eligibility for Disability Assistance, fully supported by public sector health and social care professionals.

We want to ensure that people with disabilities can access a flexible, person centred assessment service across the length and breadth of the country.

People will be offered a choice of an appointment date and time that suits them, home visits will be available when they are required.

We are committed to significantly reducing face-to-face assessments. This will only happen when it is the only practicable way to gather additional information to make a decision about entitlement.

People will have the right to be accompanied to an assessment, and to have that person participate in the assessment. This right is included in the Social Security (Scotland) Act.

The Agency will be pro-active in collecting evidence and provide clear guidance on what evidence will support a claim, being open and transparent about what information is necessary.

By reducing the number of face-to-face assessments being undertaken, we will reduce time constraints on assessors, allowing them more time to fully consider the evidence provided.

As part of our commitment to trust and transparency, audio recording of assessments will be provided as standard.

The appeal tribunal will be given the recording and they may choose to use it to inform their determination.
After an assessment

A copy of the assessor’s report is not sent alongside the initial decision.

People are not informed about whether/how each piece of evidence has been used
Social Security Scotland will send a copy of the assessment report alongside the decision letter.

The decision letter will explain how the decision has been reached, and what evidence has been used in doing so.
Application

The application process is not accessible.

Guidance on filling in application forms and preparing for assessments is not available in accessible formats

It is not made clear that information from previous assessments will not be re-used

Employment should not disadvantage a person’s entitlement.
We will ensure that the application process for Disability Assistance is inclusive, accessible, provided in a range of formats, can be completed in a range of routes (online, phone, post) and is simple, transparent and works for those making claims to Social Security Scotland.

A review is on-going of current content and communication products, and we will ensure that all information is accessible.

We are exploring the range of health and social care evidence which could be used to support decision making. We will use information held by the Agency when undertaking a review.

Disability Assistance will not be means-tested and in line with this a person’s employment status will have no influence in relation to their entitlement.
Young People 16-18

Young people are expected to transfer to PIP when they are approaching 16. This is at an age where young people may undergo a number of transitions into adult services, which can cause anxiety.
We will automatically extend awards of Disability Living Allowance and Disability Assistance for Children and Young People to age 18, to ensure that they don’t have to apply for a new working age benefit at a time when they are transitioning between children and adult services in other areas of their lives.
Terminal Illness

The current definition for accessing disability benefits is too restrictive, resulting in some people not getting access to the right support, when they need it most.
We will provide a new definition of terminal illness so that medical practitioners can use their clinical judgement to decide when an individual is regarded as terminally ill and eligible for Disability Assistance under special rules. Under special rules, an individual’s application will be fast-tracked, and they will be entitled to the highest level of the award component(s) to which they are entitled.
Advocacy Services

Concern that Advocacy support is not sufficient to assist people with disabilities to engage sufficiently when applying or being assessed for disability benefit eligibility.
People will have a right to independent advocacy, if owing to a disability they require the help of an advocate to engage effectively with the Scottish social security system.

We are developing ‘advocacy service standards’. We are working closely with advocacy organisations to ensure that those organisations delivering advocacy services are delivering their services in line with these standards.
Accessible Communication

The current system is inaccessible for some people with a disability.
Inclusive communication will be considered in all that we do.

To ensure that this happens, the requirement in the Act has also been reflected in the Social Security Charter.

We are developing communication channels which will allow for a more inclusive, personalised and efficient process that meets the expectations of applicants.

Contact

Email: david.george@gov.scot

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