Delivering Disability Assistance is the next big step in creating a social security system in Scotland. It follows the successful delivery of the first new benefits and the delivery of the first payments by our new public service Social Security Scotland.
Delivering Disability Assistance offers us an opportunity to have a positive impact on a huge number of people who contribute significantly to our communities, adding talent, diversity and richness to our society. Many are restricted in their life choices because of the barriers put in their way. Delivering Disability Assistance offers us the opportunity to remove some of these barriers and help people secure the financial support that they need to aid day-to-day life.
I am under no doubt that this is a huge challenge, marking the first time that the Scottish Government will make regular payments to assist people with disabilities. Within a programme which is already the largest transfer of powers since devolution, these forms of assistance are incredibly complex. I would therefore like to offer my sincere thanks to the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group (DACBEAG), the Ill Health and Disability Benefits Stakeholder Reference Group and also those individuals who have provided their time in sharing their experiences of navigating the disability benefits system through our Experience Panels which you have all worked with us constructively during this process to inform our work and it is vital to ensure we provide the right kind of assistance for the people of Scotland.
We consulted in 2016 on what a Social Security system in Scotland should look like and a great deal of work has been undertaken since then as a result of what people told us including informing the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. Building on the advice of DACBEAG and our Experience Panels which followed, this consultation is the next step on our journey of co-design and engagement, with potential recipients of disability benefits, the people who support them and those with expertise in this area.
I want to ensure that there is real trust placed in our social security system in Scotland. To gain this trust we must uphold our values of treating people with dignity, fairness and respect. I hope that through the commitments we have made to date that we are gaining that trust and that you will see throughout this consultation an embedded ethos of treating people in line with these values.
I recognise that some of the barriers faced by ill and disabled people has been caused by recent changes in disability benefits by the UK Government. We have repeatedly heard about the stress and anxiety caused by the current system. We will ensure that the system in Scotland is different. We will create a fair, transparent system which respects the needs of individuals and works for people, not against them.
I am of course mindful of the delivery implications which come with implementing these principals and introducing the changes to the current system which we have already committed to. That is why this consultation is so important. Your response will influence our approach and help to ensure that the system we are creating reflects the needs and views of the people who will use Disability Assistance.
We now need your views to inform our thinking further and to check that the detail of what we are proposing is right before we progress to developing regulations. I encourage you to respond to the consultation, and thank you in advance for taking the time to give us your views.