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Scotland’s new benefits: how the Scottish government is ensuring disabled people don’t miss out

26 July 2022

When the Scottish Government announced that they would place human rights at the heart of the social security benefits system, disabled people and rights organisations made clear that this would only happen if disabled people could get independent advocacy.

The government agreed, and in January this year, they commissioned VoiceAbility to offer advocacy support to access benefits across the whole of Scotland.

My advocate took her time to walk me through the application, and signposted me elsewhere for other applications I asked about.

At VoiceAbility, we believe that everyone has a right to be heard. We know how tough the experience of accessing and taking up benefits can be, too. With the cost of living rising alarmingly, this has never been more important. Our social security advocacy service exists so that no disabled person need be alone, unheard or unsupported when trying to access and realise entitlement to benefits.

If you identify as disabled (including self-identification), you’re entitled to support from an advocate to apply for twelve different benefits, including Adult Disability Payment and Child Disability Payment. An advocate can also support you to appeal if you don’t agree with the decision made by Social Security Scotland. Advocates are independent. They don’t offer advice, or tell you what to do. 

An advocate will:

  • listen to what you want to do
  • explain the application and appeals process
  • answer your questions
  • if you want them to, help you to complete paperwork
  • if you want them to, accompany you at a tribunal to ensure your voice is heard

My advocate helped me fill out all the paperwork, and gave me some good pointers to include which I hadn’t thought about.

VoiceAbility CEO Jonathan Senker says, We established this service knowing that no-one else could match our ability to provide advocacy service to the high quality and scale needed.

Registered as a charity in Scotland and becoming increasingly embedded in local communities, we know that there is a great deal more that we can, should and will do to provide truly effective, locally responsive support.

We are learning every day from our clients and others about needs which we can do more to meet, and opportunities to ensure that people have a voice.”

I found the service very helpful – I had much more knowledge afterwards than I did before speaking to VoiceAbility.