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“Dignity, fairness and respect” – Scottish Government announces changes to disability benefits

Last month, the Scottish Government announced a different approach to disability benefits, right through from application to the appeal process. Here, our Welfare and Rights Advisor, Sangeeta Enright, explains what will change for people with CF applying for disability benefits in Scotland.

When announcing the new approach to disability benefits on 23 October, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, said the result will be a different benefits system, which “makes people feel that they have been treated with dignity, fairness and respect.”

The progress made in Scotland is very welcome. We have seen, especially during the pandemic, how easily lives can change, and how important it is to receive the correct financial support. People with cystic fibrosis (CF) tell us how hard it can be to manage their diet and treatments most days, let alone when there are also financial struggles to think about.

What will change in Scotland?

The changes include renaming the three main disability benefits to make them clearer and easier to understand:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children will be renamed 'Child Disability Payment';
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will be renamed 'Adult Disability Payment'; and
  • Attendance Allowance will be renamed 'Pension Age Disability Payment'.

Another big change is to the assessments needed to access disability assistance. Under the current system, most people need to complete a face-to-face assessment including functional tests, for example seeing how far someone can walk. Instead, the Scottish Government are hoping that the majority of decisions will be made by reviewing the information provided to them by form, and then considering supporting information from relevant healthcare professionals, for example letters from your CF team.

The work we are doing

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust works for people with CF and their families to ensure they are treated fairly by the Social Security System. We do this through our policy and campaigns, where we take the experiences of people with CF to Government to seek real improvements so that people with CF get the right decisions, the first time. We are also working with Assessment Providers to help them to understand CF better.

If you have an experience you’d like to share, to help improve the system for others, please email stories@cysticfibrosis.org.uk.

Further help

We are here to support people with CF across the UK. No one should miss out on possible benefits entitlement because of a lack of available information and support, and so we are here for you. Wherever you are in the UK, if you’d like advice about your own claim for benefits, please email or call our helpline as we have a Welfare Team that can assist you. Alternatively, if your CF team has a Specialist Social Worker, you could get in touch with them.

Across the UK, COVID-19 has meant telephone assessments are in place for PIP, and this will continue to be the case in Scotland until these new changes are rolled out. If you have to do a telephone assessment for PIP, you can also download a copy of our factsheet to help you.