South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has expressed concerns that there are not adequate safeguards in place to make sure people transferring from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments do not ‘fall through the net.’
There are concerns that vulnerable claimants may not be able to access the support they need when transferring from DLA.
During an evidence session in Holyrood’s Welfare Committee, Ms McAlpine questioned Paul Gray from Westminster’ Social Security Advisory Committee about the adequacy of the system.
Mr Gray, who was tasked with reviewing PIP admitted there were no safeguards in place:
“There is a big issue to do with the support that is available to people who have difficulty claiming. Traditionally third sector organisations have played a significant role. I certainly heard evidence that quite a number of organisations that have traditionally operated in that space to support vulnerable claimants are finding it difficult to resource the support that some claimants feel they need.”
“The clear presumption now is that there is access to that type of benefit, but it is fundamentally the responsibility of the individual to come forward to claim it.”
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“As if it wasn’t bad enough that Mr Gray’s report shows that a shocking 55 per cent of DLA recipients will completely lose out as a result of the move to PIP, what last week’s session highlighted was a lack of safeguards for our most vulnerable.
“The PIP form is around 35 pages long - some people, particularly those with a learning disability, will find this very difficult to deal with.”
“While Westminster might be happy for disabled people to bear the brunt of austerity cuts, we need the opportunity to do things differently in Scotland.
“It absolutely clear that the rollout of PIP must be halted until Scotland gains responsibility for welfare decisions. It makes absolutely no sense to go through the upheaval of a move to a new system of disability benefits, only to change again just a few years later when power is devolved to Scotland.
“Of course the fact is that the current proposals for welfare devolution go nowhere near far enough and leave far too much control in the hands of Westminster.
“Electing a strong team of SNP MPs in May will empower Scotland, making our voice heard like never before - and we will use our clout in a hung parliament to gain the power we need to build a fairer society."