Citizens Advice Scotland is pleased to respond to this Green Paper consultation on the future of disability support. Last year, the Citizens Advice network in Scotland gave out over 168,500 pieces of advice on disability benefits, making it our biggest area of advice.
The experience of clients coming to the Citizens Advice network in Scotland for advice shows that Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) disability benefits are often inadequate, difficult and complex to access, and can feature distressing and undignified medical assessments - all while being too restrictive in their eligibility criteria. Throughout this response, we draw on case examples from across Scotland and suggest solutions which would profoundly improve clients’ experiences.
We welcome this Green Paper as the beginning of a discussion to improve the benefits and support available to people with disabilities, but caution that this should not be seen as a cost-saving exercise and should seek to maximise options and supports rather than limit them. As we will go into in more depth in the course of this paper, some of the proposals made in the Green Paper could lead to a better experience for many people, but more detail is required. Importantly, independent advice and advocacy should always be available for all who wish to access it.