Welfare Reform

Scotland’s Social Security System

The Scotland Act 2016 saw the devolution of certain areas of social security to the Scottish Parliament.

The Social Security (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in April 2018. In order to deliver a new system for Scotland, Social Security Scotland was established to oversee the development, implementation and provision of social security in relation to 11 areas.

These include:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance and Supplement
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Winter Fuel Payment
  • Cold Weather Payment
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit
  • Funeral Expenses Payment
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant/Best Start Grant

The establishment of the benefits is taking place in stages and it is hoped the set up will be complete in 2021.

Universal Credit and other employment related social security benefits will remain reserved to the UK Parliament.

Easy Read Benefits Guides

Benefit Changes

‘What’s changing with benefits’ booklet is an easy read guide put together by adults with learning disabilities who form the LDAS Aberdeen Stronger Together accessible politics group.

Click here   to download a pdf copy of this helpful booklet.

PIP Guide

‘Claim Personal Independence Payment’ is a how-to easy read guide to take people through the things they will face when applying for PIP. It includes information the application and appeals process, assessments questions and the PIP points system.

The guide was put together by adults with learning disabilities who form the LDAS Ayrshire Stronger Together accessible politics group.

Click here  to download a pdf copy of this helpful booklet.

Benefits Are Changing

Edinburgh Stronger Together accessible politics group put together an easy read guide to the changing benefits system to help people with learning disabilities.

Click here  to download a pdf copy of this helpful booklet.

Social Security Assessments

LDAS chair Ewan Hamilton welcomed the Scottish Government pledge that there will be no private sector involvement in assessment processes under the new Scottish Social Security system.

On behalf of the organisation, Ewan (pictured) said it is important that social security assessments have nothing to do with making anyone a profit.

“It is not right that people are making money our of doing assessments for people in need.~ said Ewan.

“We keep hearing of people having terrible assessment experiences. They are sent far away from their homes for them. And they are not treated well. This makes everyone very anxious. It is not right to treat people with disabilities and learning disabilities in this way, or people who are sick and need help.”

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament in September, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville said assessments for disability support will be carried out by Social Security Scotland, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals.

She added that people will be given greater choice and flexibility over their assessments.

She said: “In line with the important principle that social security is a public service, I have decided that our new public agency Social Security Scotland will deliver assessments to determine eligibility for disability assistance.

“It is clear to me that the new agency is best placed to provide a flexible, person centred assessment service, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals. This decision has been taken following an extensive period of research, analysis and consultation with key stakeholders.

“It is clear that the UK Government are content with an approach that sees private sector assessment providers prioritise profits over people. We will not farm out assessments to private companies.

“Furthermore under the Scottish government system, people will be given greater choice and control over their assessment through four actions I have committed to today.  People will be invited at a time that suits them and to a location that suits them. For those with difficulty travelling, the assessor will come to them.

“In addition we will introduce audio recordings of assessments as standard to ensure accuracy and transparency. And we will also allow the social security appeals tribunal to access the audio recording to help inform their decision.

“From application to award, we will provide a service that manages performance, quality and outcomes.  And it is this approach that will see dignity and respect embedded throughout, and ensure people can have trust in the system.”

  The easy video news edition above is all about the assessment pledge.

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Social Security Changes in Scotland

Created June 2017

Scottish Government is getting control of 11 welfare benefits in Scotland under a new Social Security law, which is working it’s way through Parliament.
Among them are some of the benefits that affect most disabled people, including:
Personal Independence Payments (and DLA)
Carers Allowance
Severe Disability Premium
Cold Weather Payments

The new social security law in Scotland will include a ‘Claimants Charter’ to underline the treatment of claimants with ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ and to write these values into law.

Social Security (Scotland) Bill

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill will establish Scotland’s first social security system to be run by the Scottish Parliament. It will give the Scottish Government the powers to deliver eleven benefits devolved as part of the Scotland Act 2016, provide powers to top up reserved benefits and a mechanism to pay a Carer’s Allowance supplement.

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said she has built the principles of a just and fair society into the bill.

The full legislative framework of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill is available here.

The full cost of the benefit will total around £2.9 billion per year and will be delivered directly by the new social security agency with Discretionary Housing Payments delivered by local authorities.


The Scottish Government say the first social security payments to be delivered by the Scottish Government from summer 2018 will be the increased Carer’s Allowance, followed by the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance from summer 2019.

The Bill is at Stage 1 of the process and the Social Security Committee has issued a call for views on the Bill to be submitted by Wednesday 23 August 2017.  An easy read version of the survey is available here.

Benefits pamphlet

Created on 25 November 2016

How Benefits Are Changing And What To Do About It is a special booklet put together by Aberdeen Stronger Together group to provide information and advice about the new benefits many people living with learning disabilities depend on. You can read more here.

New Universal Credit Delays

Created on 01 August 2016

The new Work and Pension Minister, Damian Green has announced that it will take till September 2018 until all Job Centres are ready to handle Universal Credit claims.

In a further delay he said existing benefit claims would not start being transferred to Universal Credit until July 2019 and the transfer would be completed before summer 2022—6 years away

Created on 20 May 2016

We are aware of an increasing number of problems that people with learning disabilities are experiencing in the welfare benefit system.  Some of this is linked to the use of targets by the Department of Work and Pensions.  Other problems are linked to the complexities of letters and forms sent to people to fill in.

Some support staff are no longer filling in forms because the consequences of getting this wrong can be very difficult and worrying for the people we support.  Our advice for everyone is involved is to get good advice if you are not sure what to do.

You can use our new map of welfare right advice centres to track down your local advice shop.  Take your letters and forms along and get the right help.

If you need help claiming benefits or want advice about how to sort out a problem, find you nearest Welfare Rights Advice Centre on the map.

Conference Report

Created on 11 March 2015

Over 160 people with learning disabilities, family carers, professionals and support staff registered for the LDAS conference on March 2nd  2015.

The conference heard stories and tales about the challenges that people have in their lives.

Andrew spoke about his worry over the benefit changes that were coming and how his life would be affected if he didn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payment.

Peter talked about the real difficulties he had with electricity bills and how he lost out because he wasn’t able to get the same deals as everyone else.

Mhairi said she had been bullied again and again in her work by colleagues and her boss until she had no choice but to leave losing her benefits as a result.

Aimee told us about being bullied in everyday places such as the pub over trivial things like a game of pool until she felt unsafe to go anywhere without friends.

Pauline spoke about how her daughter has been put on the “clipboard” and no longer has regular help from social workers.

Multi Media

The conference involved people in different ways of telling their stories.  So that everyone could get their message across.

Margaret drew a poster illustrating the arrival of SDS.  It showed her concern at what had happened in Glasgow but at least it was over but other areas weren’t happy as they had still to go through it. (See website for video showing Margaret explaining her poster in her own words).

There were also two cracking songs written during each workshop which were performed at the playback session.  “I Want A Real Good Service” was performed to the tune of “You can’t push your granny off the bus.”

A small group of people performed short forum theatre pieces.  One was on not having enough money for a cup of coffee.  No money  made people feel miserable but the piece also ended up with a collective solution to a shared problem. (see website—Video Coffee)

Another workshop produced video news bulletins looking at the problems in getting a service in the first place.

Minister’s Speech

Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government Minister responsible for strategy for learning disabilities came and spoke in the afternoon.  The speech is also on the website but highlights include.

“People should have the same rights and choice to have the right support to be active members of their community as other people. The SDS Act came into effect last year and should help support this.

“Welfare reform is an important issue for the Scottish Government.  We are investing to help limit the damage to vulnerable people.

“Care Charges are important to you all.  We are working with COSLA to get more consistency.

“The Keys to Life is encouraging partnership to deliver better services for people with learning disabilities.  We face significant difficulties in public funding. But to meet such challenges we need to make sure services are tailored to individual needs.

The final word of the conference should go to Caroline Gray, LDAS secretary who opened the conference with these words.  “Life is getting harder but let’s make it better because we are stronger together.”

created on 2 March 2014

People who receive Severe Disability Allowance (SDA) are now being transferred to the Employment Support Allowance.  Some people may have to go for a Work Capability Assessment.

You may find the following information helpful.

Our Easy Read Guide to the ESA Work Capability Assessment guide.

Our ten top tips for managing the process.

The task, descriptors and points in the WCA test.

The ESA 50 form

Created on 23 June 2013

The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has produced two new guides on the "easyproposed changes in Welfare Benefits over the next few years.

You can download both of them from here.  The photo booklet.  The Easy Read pamphlet.

Both of these contain the same information but some people find the different styles easier to read.  Please let us know which you like best by emailing us

By Idem Lewis

Created on 04 July 2013

There are a number of welfare reform changes that will make things harder for local councils.

1.  Personal Independence payment (PIP) – People in social care may not get support as the PIP assessment is different from the social care assessment so people who get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) may not get Personal Independence Payment and with councils short of money also people cannot pay charging policy, local authorities will have to find the money through their general pot or vulnerable people will have no support plus legal action by their families.

Universal Credit

2.  Housing Benefit is moving to the UK Government from Local authorities with a housing Benefit cap.  There will be no TUPE regulations under this proposal, so therefore people who work in Housing Benefit sections in local councils will be made redundant.  The UK government wants local government to pay for this even though it is a UK Government idea for this change.

3  The preferred way of claiming will be online applications for Universal Credit instead of paper format. How will people in social care groups do this when very few have access to computers?

4.  People will be paid be monthly Benefits under Universal Credit.  UK Government wants Local Government to teach people about managing Monthly Benefits.

5.  Housing Benefits paid directly to individuals instead of landlords.  How will people in council and housing association properties manage their money and there will be more pressure on organisations like Money Advice.


6.  There will be a 10% cut in Council tax Benefit with pensioners exempt. There has been a deal with COSLA and Scottish Government which mean that Scotland will escape from this for one year. Local authorities will either have to introduce a scheme to manage the cut in council tax benefit by the end of January following year which may mean unwaged disabled people paying some form of council tax or keep it the way it is but with 10% cut.


7.  A seven day wait before claiming benefits –  Some people will choose to go for long term permanent full time positions instead of part time temporary work in order not be out of pocket when the contract ends.  The implication is that local authorities who invest in training or other initiatives to get especially young people into work will not achieve their targets because the young people will be less likely to take temporary jobs.

8.   People will have to learn English before claiming benefit – The implication is that local authorities will have to directly or indirectly fund English classes, interpreters and employing teachers and other staff.

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