Blog | Making social security fair

15th March 2021

In our latest blog, Public Affairs Officer Craig Smith, covers how delays to new Scottish social security benefits could affect people with mental health problems and shares our three key suggestions which would make a real difference.

Social security is changing in Scotland, but is it changing fast enough?

Scotland now has its own social security system. This represents the largest increase in powers for the Scottish Parliament and Government since devolution began back in 1999. The development of the Scottish social security system is something SAMH has welcomed and worked hard to influence.

Adult Disability Payment (ADP), which is replacing Personal Independence Payment (PIP), will be the largest of the Scottish benefits. We know that PIP does not work for people with mental health problems and welcome commitments from the Scottish Government that ADP will fundamentally change aspects of PIP, particularly replacing the dehumanising face to face medical assessment with a consultation undertaken by someone with relevant training and professional experience – such as experience in working in mental health.

But we are worried about the time it will take for everyone in Scotland who’s eligible for ADP to start receiving it. 

In the world before coronavirus, ADP was due to open for new claimants this summer. This has now been delayed till summer 2022. We accept that the pandemic has made it impossible to stick to the original timescale. But we need to talk about how this delay will affect people with mental health problems who were due to move to, or make an initial claim for, ADP from this summer.

The Scottish Government promised that once ADP was open to new applications, no one with an existing PIP award would be reassessed under the UK system. Instead, once their award was due for renewal they would automatically transfer to the Scottish ADP system, thus avoiding a UK face to face assessment.

We estimate that the delay to ADP will mean that at least 141,000 people in Scotland will now remain on PIP or enter the PIP system, who would otherwise have been eligible for ADP. Around 55,000 of this group will have a mental health problem. Of this, we estimate that around 33,000 will be new claimants who will now likely have to go through a PIP face to face assessment. We also believe an estimated 11,000 people with mental health problems in Scotland are likely to go through a PIP mandatory reconsideration or appeal and may be financially worse off or lose out entirely due to inadequacies in the PIP system.

How can this be resolved? We have three ideas which would make a real difference. We have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville, sharing our ideas.

  1. Extend PIP awards due for review during 2021-2022 until ADP is introduced, to avoid the requirement for face to face assessments
  2. Give priority to the group of people affected by the delay when transferring PIP recipients to ADP in Scotland
  3. Once ADP is established, review all the failed PIP applications made during that period, and run a campaign inviting people who’ve been turned down for PIP to apply for ADP

Over the next few months we’ll be campaigning to make these ideas a reality, so people with mental health problems don’t suffer either financially or by having to go through an unnecessary PIP assessment, with all the problems that involves.

If you’d like to join us as a SAMH campaigner, please sign up now.