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Disabled Scots left destitute by new payments system

This news post is about 7 years old

CAS report says disabled Scots are being left in poverty by delays in new system

A new payments system is forcing many disabled Scots into poverty for months without the means to pay for basics like food, fuel and housing - according to a new report by Citizens Advice Scotland.

The new Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which has been introduced in Scotland over the last year, replaced Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) as the main benefit that helps disabled people meet the costs of their basic daily living.

But evidence recorded by CAB advisers shows the new system is dogged by huge delays, through an assessment process which is problematic and prone to mistakes.

They are causing great detriment to some very vulnerable citizens and their families - Susan McPhee

The charity found clients who experience delays wait on average of six months between application and payment - but some have reported delays of 15 months.

Of these cases, most claimants face severe hardship, with many of them needing to use foodbanks. And many have told CAS advisors their health has deteriorated as a result.

Susan McPhee, head of policy at CAS, said: “While some claimants are reporting that the system has worked well for them, we are still finding too many delays, and too many inaccurate assessments. It is deeply worrying that so many problems have already emerged with the new system at such an early stage.

“What is especially disappointing is that some of these are problems that were previously experienced with ESA. It appears that, despite some improvements, too many of those lessons have not been learned.

“In reporting these problems we ask the government to take them seriously and address them urgently, as they are causing great detriment to some very vulnerable citizens and their families.”

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said the report is damning evidence of the devastating consequences Westminster's welfare cuts are having on thousands of sick and disabled people in Scotland.

“The Westminster establishment has shown time and time again that it can't be trusted on welfare - its race to the right to court votes in the south east of England is punishing the very people who need support the most.”

Mark Harper, UK minister for disabled people, said: "Unlike the old system, PIP includes a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews to ensure support goes to those who need it most.

"The latest figures show just that, with nearly 23% of people getting the highest level of support, compared to 16% under DLA.

"By the end of the year we expect that no-one will be waiting for an assessment for longer than 16 weeks."



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