seAp Project Changes Scottish Law
seAp’s Disability Benefits Advocacy Project has been running in Hastings and other parts of East Sussex for the last five years. It’s helped over 400 people going through the assessment process for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), by preparing them for the assessment, accompanying them to the assessment, and ensuring they understand the decision ultimately taken.
Back in 2015 One of seAp’s associates living in Glasgow took the seAp model to colleagues at the ALLIANCE, the representative body for organisations working with people with long term conditions in Scotland.
The Scottish Government then funded an ALLIANCE co-ordinated 16-month pilot in four areas of Scotland to explore the impact of the model.
The Welfare Advocacy Support Project, just like seAp’s work, proved hugely successful. People going into assessments prepared by advocates and with an advocate sitting alongside them were more confident, discussed their health situation more openly and had better interaction with the assessor. The project helped over 700 people claim £3.2m of benefits that they would otherwise not have received. More information can be seen here https://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/blog/resources/welfare-advocacy-support-project-final-reports/
The Scottish Government is in the process of taking up new powers over benefits it was granted after the No vote in the 2014 referendum in acknowledgement of the closeness of the vote.
Using the experience of the Welfare Advocacy Support Project, The ALLIANCE, working with the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance and others, successfully campaigned for an amendment to the new Social Security Bill. This now contains an explicit right to advocacy for disabled people and people with mental health problems applying for the Scottish Government’s new version of PIP. A massive step forward.
seAp is delighted at this success and will now redouble its efforts with others to see similar rights put into force in the rest of the UK. In the meantime, we’ll seek to sustain and grow funding for our disability benefits advocacy work, and to promote c-App, our award winning online preparation resource for people applying for ESA or PIP.