Johnstone to improve Social Security Bill to end disruptive & stressful disability assessments

Green MSP Alison Johnstone will this week attempt to improve the Scottish Government’s Social Security Bill to end what she says is “serious disruption and stress to applicants’ lives” from unnecessary assessments for disability benefits.

Ahead of Wednesday’s final vote on the Bill, Alison Johnstone, social security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:

“I am bringing an amendment that seeks to ban assessments from being undertaken unless the Scottish Government can demonstrate that already existing evidence from GPs, social workers and other professionals is not sufficient to corroborate a claim. This will have the effect of significantly reducing the much-hated assessments, a move described by Citizens Advice Scotland as ‘the highest priority for the Scottish Social Security System’.”

According to evidence from Citizens Advice Scotland, the number of unnecessary medical assessments for disability benefits is substantially reduced by making the best use of existing evidence. (i)

Alison’s amendments will also create a requirement to justify assessment requests, which means that those undertaking the assessments will have to inform the applicant of the consideration given to their preference for how and where they will be carried out.

Alison explained:

“This will help people to understand why and how decisions are being made about their application and should hopefully remove some of the confusion and concern surrounding the process.

“The aim of my amendments is to ensure that respect for the dignity of individuals is at the heart of the Scottish social security system. That is why we need to end the practice of unnecessary assessments, which only serve to duplicate the existing evidence and cause serious disruption and stress to applicants’ lives.”