Pressure to improve plans for a new state pension age benefit which will replace Attendance Allowance in Scotland is mounting.
A coalition of 15 national charities and organisations coordinated by Age Scotland is urging the Scottish Government to boost their plans for the new Pension Age Disability Payment (PADP) by including extra mobility and travel support for recipients.
The group believe it would make the system fairer and give disabled older people a better quality of life.
The extra support, known as a mobility component, is currently available to younger people below state pension age in receipt of disability-linked benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Adult Disability Payment (ADP).
A mobility component is not part of Attendance Allowance
However, it has not previously been part of the older age equivalent, Attendance Allowance.
The campaigners, including Parkinson’s UK Scotland, MS Society Scotland and Marie Curie, believe including a mobility component in PADP would help safeguard older people’s independence and participation in society as well as enhance wellbeing, help tackle social isolation and loneliness, and relieve pressure on frontline services.
They believe this will all be while combatting poverty and low income challenges.
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, Katherine Crawford, said: “Our national helpline regularly hears from older people in receipt of Attendance Allowance looking for information on what is available to support their mobility needs.
“People tell us they feel the current system is deeply unfair, and even ageist, with many unable to access support with their mobility through the benefits system and unsure why they do not qualify for help due to their age.
“Including this component would bring PADP into line with Child Disability Payment, Adult Disability Payment, and DLA – and as such we believe this would align with the stated foundations of the Scottish social security system of dignity, fairness, and respect.
“We believe the Scottish Government can promote fairness and improve the quality of life for older disabled people by including a mobility component within PADP and would strongly urge them to commit to exploring this proposal.”
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The component could potentially give disabled people over state pension age access to the Motability Scheme, automatic eligibility for a Blue Badge, plus the chance to apply for an exemption from paying vehicle tax.
Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Our priority is the safe and secure transfer to Pension Age Disability Payment once it is launched from next year. People who currently receive Attendance Allowance through the UK Department for Work and Pensions will have their awards automatically transferred to Social Security Scotland, without any interruptions to their payments.
“While this means we can’t make fundamental changes to the existing benefit structure or rules, we are going to make what changes we can within what is a very difficult financial situation for the Scottish Government. As a result, people will see a marked improvement in the support they receive and in how this new benefit is delivered.”
Some 129,641 people who currently get Attendance Allowance living in Scotland will automatically be transferred to the new system, meaning there is no need for them to apply for the devolved benefit.
It’s understood a phased pilot scheme will launch from Autumn 2024 for new claimants, ahead of a rollout in early 2025.