Weekly Poll – Adult Disability Payment (Week Beginning 1 February 2021)

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue.  For the week beginning 1 February 2021, we asked a question about Adult Disability Payment, a new Scottish benefit which will replace Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and be delivered by Social Security Scotland.


Do you think the process for applying and being assessed for Adult Disability Payment is an improvement over Personal Independence Payment (PIP)? 

  • YES – 32% (91 respondents)
  • NO – 68% (191 respondents)


There is recognition from respondents that elements of Adult Disability Payment improve upon PIP to make it a more fair and equal system, however the majority of respondents believed that further changes are needed before the new system is introduced. We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

20-Metre Rule

One element which created considerable disquiet amongst respondents is the decision to retain the 20-metre rule. This means if you can walk one step over 20 metres, you will not receive the higher rate of the mobility component. This is particularly concerning for disabled people with fluctuating conditions.

“I am very concerned that the walking distance for enhanced payment is not changing. The reduction to 20 meters was driven by the Government imposing austerity related cuts. There was no medical reason to reduce the distance. Social Security Scotland should restore the distance criteria to its pre-austerity levels.”

“Unfortunately, the 20-metre rule is currently causing a number of problems for people living with certain conditions. It needs to be scrapped and people assessed in a fair way. Someone might walk 20 meters but the effects of doing so can mean that they are unable to do anything else that day.”

“Overall, the system seems fairer, but some of the abnormalities like walking a distance still exist. The politic of not departing too much from the United Kingdom system is immeasurably unfair.”

“Retaining the 20-metre rule does not lend itself to a human rights-based approach.”

Length of Awards

All awards will be made on a rolling basis, with no set date for an award ending. For people with conditions that are unlikely to improve, there will be at least 5 years between ‘light-touch reviews’. A number of respondents suggested that lifetime awards should be reintroduced in circumstances for disabled people with long-term conditions that are unlikely to change.

“Rolling 5-year Light touch is ok for conditions that may improve but a waste of time, money and stress regarding those with a deteriorating condition”

“Lifetime disabled people should have an indefinite award like it used to be. Also, for long term conditions leave that rolling too and trust people to let you know if/when there is a change in their condition.”

“Indefinite awards need to be reinstated for people with lifetime conditions. They have enough stress and anxiety on their lives.”

“Lifetime awards need to be reinstated and stop the stress, anxiety and burden on all involved; from the individual to the GP and person looking through the application.”


Respondents welcomed the decision for consultations to only take place when it is believed to be the only way to gather the information needed to decide on an award. There was also praise for the range of methods available for conducting consultations, including, phone, video or face-to-face, removing the need for people to travel unnecessarily.

“I am very glad to hear that an in-person assessment won’t be required even when a consultation is necessary. I would not have been comfortable with an in-home assessment and that was the only two options the DWP offered. But doing a video call would be much better.”

“Taking away the functional assessment is going to be a massive improvement for all of us. Not having to travel to assessments is another plus”

“It was awful the last time I had to reapply for my PIP. I could not get my wheelchair through the assessment centre doorway. A video interview would save the embarrassment I faced.”

Some respondents raised concerns about the assessment criteria and the suitability of the assessors and whether they have the requisite knowledge to make an informed decision regarding an award.

“I still feel concerned that conditions such as autism will be overlooked and denied if eligibility is based on physical capacity and limitations rather than social and emotional.”

“I have a concern about the definition of “suitably qualified”. I am autistic – I have never had an assessment from anyone who understands autism.”

“The functional impact of sensory loss is often conducted by individuals that have no knowledge, experience or expertise in the area and failure to assess adequately is compounded by lack of attention to sensory loss in the diagnosis of other conditions (or mis-diagnosis). Ideally the review will address these structural flaws.”

Transition from PIP

There is a need for clarification regarding the process of transferring from Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to Adult Disability Payment. Respondents reflected on the stress and anxiety created during the transition from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP.

“Are we going to have to apply from scratch or are you going to transfer our PIP Awards over. If I have to apply is it going to involve loads of paperwork and repetitive questions again. My DLA only got transferred over to PIP last year and don’t really want to go through the stress and worry all over again”

“Significant anxiety was created in the move from DLA to PIP (with many still going through that process) where new forms had to be completed with additional health assessments by unqualified third parties and with many claimants losing benefits for no good reason only (except to save DWP money) for them to be re-instated on appeal.”

“I have been through 3 ATOS assessments in 18 months. Two were for PIP and one was for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). These were very stressful, and the end result was that I was awarded PIP for a ten-year period. It was such a relief knowing I would not have to go through the same assessment for another ten years. Now, I find I am going to have to be assessed for a replacement benefit and then be reassessed every five years. Hardly an improvement.”

“How long the process takes to change over. It does not seem quick enough. We need more information about the changes, to allay fears.”

Application Process

Respondents praised the range of formats that the application will be available in, including paper, online and telephone, depending on what is best suited to the needs and preferences of the claimant.

“Applying online/electronically empowers more disabled people to fill in the form themselves. I can’t hold a pen so have had to have others fill in the forms for my DLA and then PIP.”

“Sounds like it will be a big improvement over PIP. Great that they are allowing online applications. That will allow me to apply myself, rather than have to rely on someone else.”

“Range of routes to apply fine as is a new form (the old one was designed to intimidate and catch people out)”

Despite this commitment, there was considerable frustration from one respondent regarding the accessibility of the current consultation process, stressing the need to produce the documents in easy read, a format that is accessible for people with learning disabilities.

“Would it be possible for an easy read version of the consultation to be made available? I have tried reading the document but do not understand it due to my disability. One thing that is really frustrating is that policies that affect people with disabilities are not accessible to people with certain disabilities. I cannot contribute to the discussion because I do not fully understand what they are asking in the document. This means I cannot be represented and contribute – this is discriminatory. If it is discriminating at the start – how can I trust it not to discriminate when it launches?”

Engage with Disabled People

Some respondents suggested that the proposed independent review of Adult Disability Payment, which is scheduled to take place in 2023, must be brought forward in order to address pressing concerns.

“The 2023 review needs brought forward not kicked into the long grass.”

“The wider review needs to be done before 2023. It has already taken far too long to devolve from the United Kingdom Government and DWP. This review needs to be more urgent.”


Respondents recognised that there are various elements of the Adult Disability Payment that improve upon PIP, including the applications available in multiple formats, no functional assessments and consultations only when further information is required. However, there was considerable concern regarding the decision to retain the 20-metre rule. Some respondents also believed that lifetime awards should be reinstated for people with long-term disabilities. In order for Social Security Scotland to meet their aim of developing a system that is embedded in dignity, fairness and respect, it is vital for ongoing engagement with disabled people throughout the transition phase. Respondents suggested moving forward the independent review to help alleviate any immediate concerns.

Disability Equality Scotland, February 2021