Child Disability Payment pilot opens for new applications

The new Child Disability Payment has opened for applications from people living in three pilot areas.

Shona Robison

Families of children with a disability or long-term health condition living in Dundee City, Perth and Kinross and Western Isles council areas who need financial support should apply to the new system.

This is the first application-based disability benefit to be introduced by the Scottish Government and will be administered by Social Security Scotland. The benefit replaces the UK Government’s Disability Living Allowance for children. 

The pilot will be followed by a nationwide roll out in the autumn and is for families applying for the first time for this benefit. Those already in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for children do not need to apply and their cases will be transferred in future.

Social justice secretary Shona Robison said: “Families have been involved throughout the development of Child Disability Payment and it is hugely rewarding to see three years of work on this benefit now delivering for people. Every client can expect to be treated with dignity, fairness and respect throughout the process.

“Parents and carers of a child with a disability or long term health condition already experience a number of challenges and accessing the financial support that they are entitled to shouldn’t be another one. By including them at every step of the process, we have been able to focus on what suits parents and carers and have designed a system that meets their needs.

“It is fantastic to see the pilot in Dundee City, Perth and Kinross and the Western Isles begin for people with new claims. It will allow us to make sure the new disability benefit system is fully ready for Child Disability Payment’s full national rollout this autumn, and ahead of the transfer of existing clients.”

This latest support is being introduced for families applying for disability assistance for the first time. The three area pilot provides a safe and secure introduction of the benefit in relatively small numbers with the opportunity to ensure the new service is meeting the needs of clients before expanding nationally.

Families do not need to make a new application for Child Disability Payment if they are currently in receipt of Disability Living Allowance for children. These families will be contacted directly and their benefit will be transferred automatically to Social Security Scotland in a phased approach from autumn. This means their Disability Living Allowance for children will be replaced by the Scottish Child Disability Payment. Their Child Disability Payment will continue to be made at the same rates and at the same time as their Disability Living Allowance for children.

Child Disability Payment is the first of the three big disability benefits to be introduced by the Scottish Government and the first that needs to be applied for.

To enable people to apply in the way that suits them best, it will be the first disability benefit in the UK that can be applied for online, as well as being available by post, phone, or face to face (Covid restrictions permitting).

To coincide with the introduction of Child Disability Payment, Social Security Scotland has also launched its local delivery service in the three pilot areas. This means that people will be able to get advice and support on all 11 Social Security Scotland administered benefits face-to-face (Covid restrictions permitting) at a location in their local community or via video call. The local delivery service will also be available nationally from autumn.

Tracy McNally, director of Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “The devolution of these social security payments is a massive opportunity to get the system right for people. The Citizens Advice network across Scotland helps people with social security concerns every day, with disability benefits being one of the biggest issues people seek advice from, so people should feel confident in knowing they’ll always be able to turn to us for help if they need it with the new payment.”

Scottish Labour said it hopes the pilots will be used to further improve the process of applying for support for disabled children.

The party’s spokesperson on social justice and social security, Pam Duncan-Glancy, said: “It’s good to see the roll out of the Child Disability Payment begin in Scotland, it’s been a long time coming.

“With 260,000 children living in poverty in Scotland, it is crucial that the Scottish Government act now to double the Scottish Child Payment immediately and take action to address the eligibility for and adequacy of the Scottish Child Disability Payment.

“Whilst there are improvements to the process of applying for support for disabled children, it seems the SNP have not yet considered the extent of the overhaul needed.

“We need to very quickly address the eligibility and adequacy of disability support, as well as improving the assessment for it. Anything less is simply picking up the DWP rulebook – and we all need more than that.

“I hope the government will use these pilots to develop a better approach and get more money in the pockets of families, fast.”

Scottish Greens social security spokesperson Maggie Chapman MSP added: “It is absolutely crucial that the Scottish Government uses fully its new powers over social security to provide genuine support to those who need it and to repair the terrible damage done by UK welfare reforms.

“The Child Disability Payment launching this week largely replicates the UK benefit it replaces, and so the pilot phase must be used by the Scottish Government as an opportunity to find out from families what needs to be done to better support disabled children.

“The Payment will not always meet the costs of supporting a disabled child, which can run to over £1000 a month, so improving the adequacy of the payment should be top of the agenda.

“Simply taking over the administration of broken UK benefits and making some minor improvements would be a betrayal of the SNP’s promises to rebuild our social security system on the principles of dignity and respect. We must make the system radically fairer, and the Child Disability Payment is an early test of that aim.”

Tags: welfare

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