New figures reveal 130,000 are still to be subjected to humiliating PIP assessments - but SNP won't halt them
Disability groups fear for the well-being of Scots waiting to be tested for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) after new figures revealed 130,000 have yet to be assessed.
Figures from Labour show that despite Scotland being granted control for disability payments from Westminster, delays in creating a Scottish social security system will mean a three-year wait before powers are put into practice.
It means nearly all Scots on Disability Living Allowance will have to be assessed by private contractors working for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the new allowance.
Disability groups had pinned hopes that the SNP’s “fairer, more humane” social security system would end the assessments and save thousands of disabled people from the humiliating assessment process.
Scottish Labour’s social security spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said: “Labour wants to end these cruel and inhumane assessments that have piled misery on vulnerable Scots.
We were promised a more humane system. Many are asking whether that is actually all empty promises - Claire Corey
“But the SNP’s decision to delay the powers means that 130,000 Scots will be assessed under the current system. That is a dereliction of duty from the SNP and shows that Nicola Sturgeon is not serious when she promises to take a different approach to the Tories.
“The decision to delay the transfer of responsibility for disability benefits from Westminster to Holyrood exposes an astonishing failure from the SNP.
“For years SNP ministers have, rightly, criticised Tory reforms to welfare benefits for treating people with disabilities cruelly. They have promised that they would restore respect and dignity in the new Scottish social security system.
“But now they are prepared to leave some of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens to the mercies of a Tory Government until the end of the decade.”
Claire Corey from Disabled People Against Cuts said the assessment regime was making more people ill.
“This is the single most stressful aspect of the cuts agenda,” she said. “Not only are you forced to prove disability and illness you are then made to wait to hear if you will lose vital cash.
“Let’s not forget that disabled people are already on the breadline. They can’t afford to lose any more money.
“We were promised a more humane system. But many are asking whether that more humane system is actually all empty promises.”
The Scottish Government said it would create a new system for assessment in Scotland as part of the new social security system.
Ministers said it would abandon the need to for claimants to prove they were ill. Instead the new system would rely more on medical history and put the needs of claimants first.
However disability groups have been critical of ministers who have so far failed to provide details of how the new system will work in practice.
A spokesperson for SNP social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “There is no delay. Labour should know that it is only once we have the legislative framework in place - the process currently under way - that it is possible to start delivering the social security payments.
“We have repeatedly called on the UK government to halt the roll-out of PIP in Scotland.
“Ironically, if Labour had had their way then these powers would have remained in Westminster’s hands in perpetuity. By contrast, the SNP campaigned tirelessly for these powers to be taken out of the hands of the Tories, and are working to building a system which has dignity and respect as its core principles.”