27th October 2016
A report launched by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) today found that the assessment process for Personal Independence Payment is not adequately designed for people with mental health problems, despite it being the most common reason people claim.
This report contributes to the Scottish Government consultation on social security in Scotland, due to end this Friday. The consultation will inform the creation of a Scottish Social Security system to manage newly-devolved powers over benefits for disabled and unwell people. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is currently the responsibility of the UK government but will soon be devolved to the Scottish Government.
To shape the report SAMH spoke to service users and service managers about their experiences of the transition from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Some individuals reported facing negative and stigmatising attitudes from some assessors who don’t consider their mental ill health as they would physical health:
One individual said: “I got told that my conditions don’t impact on my life. I go to bed at night crying, praying that I don’t wake up. I’ve lost my house, and this has no impact on my life?”
The report highlights people’s struggles with the application form and face to face medical assessments that do not adequately assess the impact of mental health, with a focus on physical functionality. The assessment often has a negative and long term impact on people’s mental health.
Billy Watson SAMH Chief Executive said:
“We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Scottish Governments consultation on social security. Our report highlights some of the critical flaws of the current process and the impact this can have on people’s mental health.
I hope that the insight from the people who use SAMH services across Scotland can inform a new, more human rights based approach to providing social security.
Jeane Freeman MSP, Minister for Social Security said:
“For the last three months I have been around the whole country, listening to people reporting some harrowing and demeaning experiences with the current UK Government benefits system. I’m grateful to SAMH for the valuable work they’ve undertaken in highlighting the issues that people with mental health problems can face when applying for disability benefits.
“Mental health can impact on people’s lives in many ways, including their ability to engage with benefits and other entitlements and support. I am committed to designing and building a social security system that fully recognises and addresses that and ensures people are treated with dignity and respect.
“There are only a few days left to respond to our social security consultation and I would encourage anyone who has views on how the future system should support people to make their voice heard.”
Paul Spicker, Emeritus Professor of Public Policy at Robert Gordon University said:
"When these benefits were first introduced, Parliament was told that it was not just a matter of money, but of dignity. We need now to rebuild benefits, to protect ourselves and others in circumstances that can happen to any of us."