DISABILITY: Child disability payment is a vital benefit that helps parents to support their children

By Bill Heaney

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs on Thursday that caring for a child who is disabled or has a long-term condition can result in extra costs, from buying specialist equipment to taking part in activities.

And that’s why the child disability payment is a vital benefit that helps parents to support their children to live their lives as fully as possible.

She told the Holyrood parliament: “I am very pleased that, in the child disability payment’s first year, almost £60 million has been paid to the families of nearly 44,000 children and young people.

“The child disability payment is the first disability benefit anywhere in the United Kingdom for which applicants are able to apply online, by phone, by post and face to face.

“That demonstrates our commitment to improving access to social security and ensuring that people receive the assistance to which they are entitled.”

How can people apply for these payments, asked SNP MSP Paul McLennan, who told the FM: “With increasing financial pressures on families in Scotland, it is more important than ever that people get all the benefits to which they are entitled.

“Can the First Minister outline how our constituents can apply for the child disability payment and check what extra financial support from the Scottish Government they might be entitled to?”

Ms Sturgeon told him: “It is important that we take steps to raise awareness of all of the help that is available and encourage as many eligible people as possible to apply for assistance.

“People can apply for the child disability payment online, by phone, by post or face to face. I encourage anyone who thinks that they might be eligible for any of our benefits to get in touch with Social Security Scotland.

“Staff are available to answer queries about benefits and help people to complete application forms, and local delivery officers are available across the country, so that the application can be made face to face, where that is necessary.

“As shown through our benefit take-up strategy, we are absolutely committed to making sure that everyone gets the financial support that they are entitled to.”

But Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy, who is herself disabled, was not content with that answer.

She countered: “When setting up Social Security Scotland, the Scottish Government said that one of the things that it would do would be to get decisions right the first time round, in recognition of the distress that redeterminations can cause.

“Figures show that, in 86 per cent of re-determinations that were requested for the child disability payment, the decision was not right the first time around.

“We were promised a fairer system here, so what can the First Minister do to address that issue and bring certainty to people who need social security that they will not need to jump through hoops in order to get it?”

The First Minister replied: “Feedback from applications in which the first decision is not made correctly is part of the process of making sure that the system is improved on an on-going basis. I know that Social Security Scotland takes that work very seriously and focuses very hard on it.

“For all the issues that she rightly brings to the chamber about the operation of the social security system, particularly as it affects people with disabilities, I am absolutely certain—and I hope that I am not wrong—that Pam Duncan-Glancy shares my view that we already have a fairer system around those things in Scotland than exists elsewhere in the UK.

“However, through Social Security Scotland, we have an obligation to continue to improve that experience, so that, first, people are getting all the help to which they are entitled; secondly, they are getting it as easily and with as little bureaucracy as possible; and, thirdly, decisions are being taken correctly in the first instance.”

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