Social Security: one week on

2nd May 2018

Blog by Public Affairs Volunteer Seona Carnegie

One week on from the passing of the new Social Security (Scotland) Act , we would like to celebrate the introduction of a Scottish Social Security System. 

SAMH worked hard to help make improvements to the Act, and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far. But we know there’s still a lot to do.  

The new system will be responsible for non-income related disability benefits, such as PIP (Personal Independence Payments) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA), whose largest group of recipients are people with mental health problems. 

As mentioned in our last update on the progression of the Bill (Stage 2), the main concern raised by people supported by SAMH services is the assessment process for disability benefits. 

Face-to-face assessments for people with mental health problems have been criticised for a number of reasons. Some assessors don’t have a clear understanding of the impact of mental health problems, assessments don’t  accurately assess the impact of fluctuating conditions, and some people report stigmatising attitudes from assessors. 

That’s why we supported an amendment lodged by Mark Griffin MSP which  means assessments will be condition specific and carried out by someone with relevant experience in the particular condition or disability they are assessing who will be able to make informed evaluations in each case. This is a huge step forward from the current system.  

We’re also very pleased that people with mental health problems will have the chance to help prepare the new Social Security Charter. Other welcome changes to the bill include the increase in the right to independent advocacy.

We do however, remain realistic that this is only the beginning of the process. With plenty of hard work still ahead, we hope the new system works well for people with mental health problems.