Assessments for disability support will be carried out by Social Security Scotland, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals and people will be given greater choice and flexibility over their assessments.
Making the announcement to Parliament, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP said:
“In line with the important principle that social security is a public service, I have decided that our new public agency Social Security Scotland will deliver assessments to determine eligibility for disability assistance.
“It is clear to me that the new agency is best placed to provide a flexible, person centred assessment service, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals. This decision has been taken following an extensive period of research, analysis and consultation with key stakeholders.
“While the UK Tory Government is content with an approach that sees private sector assessment, we will not farm out assessments to private companies."
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“We are all aware of cases of appalling treatment of those who require disability assistance by the UK Tory Government. The SNP Government will do things differently and treat people with dignity and respect.
“Applicants will be invited to a location near them. For people who find it difficult to travel, the assessor will visit them.
“In addition, the SNP Government will introduce audio recordings of assessments as standard to ensure accuracy and transparency. The social security appeals tribunal will be allowed access to the audio recording to help inform their decisions.”
Dr Jim McCormick, Chair of the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group said:
“We welcomed the opportunity to advise Ministers on the delivery body for assessments earlier this year and strongly agreed that agency provision was the correct option, due to compelling practical, cost and presentational advantages.
“We are heartened by this announcement and the ongoing opportunities afforded to us as an independent group to provide advice on key issues of importance concerning the policy, design and delivery of the new social security system, a role which we look forward to continuing as it is put into place.”