The Scottish parliament voted last week overwhelmingly to improve disability benefits assessments and to increase and extend a range of benefits payments for sick and disabled claimants and carers.
Jeanne Freeman, minister for social security, told the Scottish parliament:
“Like many of you in this Chamber, I have heard from disabled people worried and distressed by the cuts being imposed, and by the way they are treated by the UK Government’s welfare system. I have heard that the system that is supposed to help and support them is actually doing them harm. Delays and backlogs, lengthy, disjointed and complicated forms and process, inconsistency in assessment decisions. And driving all of that calculated, planned UK government cuts to a lifeline support needed by so many of our most vulnerable citizens. Cuts in the name of austerity to provide a so-called fix for an economic crisis they did not create - but for which they are now paying a terrible price.”
The minister claimed that the Scottish parliament has already fully mitigated the effects of the bedroom tax by paying out over £35 million in discretionary housing payments and also protected the Independent Living Fund.
Now the parliament intends to:
“reform the assessment procedures to ensure they work for the people claiming disability benefits”, including setting clear timeframes for assessments, decisions and appeals and ensuring that claimants are not repeatedly assessed if they have a long-term condition that is unlikely to change;
ensure that disability benefits are increased at least in line with inflation and are not means-tested;
allow any child in receipt of disability living allowance to continue receiving it until they reach 18 years old if they wish, to reduce the stress of transferring to personal independence payment;
extend winter fuel allowance to children on higher rate disability living allowance;
increase carers allowance by £600 a year so that it is paid at the same rate as jobseeker’s allowance.
You can read more details here.