Persons with disabilities will benefit from a ground-breaking new advocacy service which will support access to Scotland’s social security services.
The Scottish Government has committed £20.4 million over the next four years to the provision of the new and free programme, unique in the UK.
It will offer advocacy support to disabled people looking to access Scottish social security benefits.
These include current and future disability benefits such as Child Disability Payment, Adult Disability Payment and Pension Age Disability Payment.
The service will be operational in the new year and is entirely independent of the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland. It will be available in each NHS board area and will create up to 100 new jobs across the country.
“The service will provide advocacy to anyone who is disabled and requires support to communicate their needs when accessing Scotland’s social security services.” said Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson.
“This assistance will be person-centred and advocates will provide the most appropriate form of support to each individual based on their circumstances.
“This is a new and independent free service, with no equivalent provided by DWP.
“It builds on our human rights-based approach and makes social security more accessible to disabled people in Scotland, ensuring their voices are heard.”
VoiceAbility, a charity with 40 years’ experience delivering advocacy services, has been awarded the contract to provide the service.
They will establish a new base and training centre in Glasgow and create up to 100 jobs over the four years. There will be at least one advocate in each NHS area at launch, with more jobs to be created as disability benefits are introduced.
This service will provide free and independent advocacy support to disabled people looking to access Scottish social security benefits. These include current and future disability benefits such as Child Disability Payment, Adult Disability Payment, and Pension Age Disability Payment, as well as a range of devolved carer and low-income benefits.
The scope of the service has been increased by updating the Advocacy Service Standards by removing the restriction to instructed advocacy. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the updated standards will be published in November prior to the comprehensive service going live. Access to the service will be via direct contact to the service or via a referral from Social Security Scotland.