Applicants for a flagship new benefit from the Scottish Government can expect a “compassionate” process, the social security minister has said.
Ben Macpherson marked the latest phase of the adult disability payment rollout by visiting staff and service users at the North Lanarkshire Disability Forum on Monday.
Residents in Angus, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire are the latest to become eligible for the payment, which will provide support to people between 16 and pension age who are disabled, have a long-term health condition or have a terminal illness.
Those already receiving a personal independence payment (PIP) will transfer from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to Social Security Scotland, which means they are not required to make another application for the adult disability payment.
But Mr Macpherson said anyone applying for disability benefits for the first time can expect a more accessible and inclusive experience from the new scheme.
He told the PA news agency: “For new applicants applying for the adult disability payment, they will experience a very different system in terms of the approach.
“First of all, we will always treat each application from a position of trust. We won’t use the private sector in any of our health assessments.
“We have particular procedures in place to make sure the application process is as easy and as inclusive as possible.”
New applications can be carried out online, by post, over the phone, or on video calls.
Local delivery teams from Social Security Scotland are also located across local authorities, Mr Macpherson added, and can meet people at their homes or in the community to assist with the application process.
He said that in-house consultations will take place as opposed to face-to-face assessments in cases where additional information is required.
“Health and social care practitioners will have a compassionate conversation with the individual to get the information we need to make an accurate decision on their application,” Mr Macpherson said.
The introduction of the new benefit payment is being introduced in pilot areas before it is goes nationwide on August 25.
The process is expected to be completed by 2025.
Lorraine Van Beuge, project manager at North Lanarkshire Disability Forum (NLDF), said: “NLDF are delighted to be involved in the launch of the adult disability payment in North Lanarkshire.
“We encouraged our members to participate in the consultations last year and we are heartened to see some of the issues raised have been considered and implemented.
“We welcome the positive changes this devolved benefit may bring our members.”