Disability benefit claimants in Scotland will now be assessed in-house by a new social security agency instead of by privately contracted companies.
The new plans were outlined by ministers and are designed to instil more trust in the assessment process, which has been criticised for being ‘cruel and humiliating’.
The social security agency, Holyrood, will assume control of 11 benefits all together, including personal independence payments (PIP) and disability living allowance, which help people to fund mobility equipment.
Around 1.4m Scots rely on disability benefits, which are worth more than £3bn a year.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville told MSPs that the new agency should carry out benefit assessments itself instead of a private firm because Holyrood is a “public service”.
Ms Somerville said the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) system in use currently means private assessment providers “prioritise profits over people”.
She added the Holyrood would not “farm out assessments to private companies”.
The new agency will aim to provide a “flexible, person centred assessment service” and will let people choose when and where they are assessed, with home visits available for people who are unable to travel.
The assessments will also be audio recorded “as standard” for the purpose of appeals.
But the DWP has said that the current processes “work for the majority of people”, according to a report by the BBC.