Advocacy in Social Security and Welfare Reform

AdvoCard have a dedicated Advocacy Worker, Arlene Astley who provides individual and collective advocacy support to those who are being effected by Welfare Reform and changes to the new Social Security system in Scotland. If you feel that you need support to be listened to throughout the process of claiming benefits please call Arlene.

Individual Advocacy Support

Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment

The ESA and PIP application processes and assessments can be distressing and confusing for those with poor mental health and because of the difficulty that many with mental health conditions have in explaining how their condition affects them, there is a risk that they will be wrongly assessed. The responsibility for collecting medical evidence also lies with the claimant. Individuals who do not have a good relationship with their care team may have difficulty in collecting this information.

How we help with this

We will meet with you beforehand to discuss your condition with you. We will then agree what aspects of your condition need to be highlighted and what you would like to be included in the claim. We will then attend the assessment with you to make sure that you are listened to throughout the assessment and are given the chance to have your say.

For those who contact AdvoCard at a different stage in their claim we can provide support to draft a mandatory reconsideration request to have the benefit decision reconsidered, attend advice appointments with you and, if necessary, attend work focused interviews or workfare appointments with you to ensure that the you are listened to at all times.

Conditionality – sanctions and the claimant commitment

Although most claimants who face sanctions are Jobseekers claimants it is also possible to be sanctioned whilst claiming Employment and Support Allowance. Claimants in the Work Related Activity group can have their benefit sanctioned if they fail to make mandatory appointments. Ways that we can help include meeting with you and discussing the problems that you are having, attending jobcentre appointments with you, making sure that you are given the opportunity to be heard and calling the DWP on your behalf.

Discretionary Housing Payments and the Scottish Welfare Fund

DHP and the SWF are administered by City of Edinburgh Council. DHPs are in place to mitigate the effect of the bedroom tax and to help with housing costs for those in need. The Scottish Welfare Fund administers payment of Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants. We can support you to seek proper advice on what you are entitled to, help make a claim and help with any payment problems by contacting CEC with you.

Collective Advocacy 

We are members of The Disability Benefits Consortium for more information visit their website

The DBC are a national coalition of over 50 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system. Through the DBC we can feed into any collaborations and lobbying campaigns at Westminster.

Arlene sits on the steering group of the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform  Meetings are held monthly and service users can contact Arlene with anything that they want her to take to the meetings.

For news on any opportunities to take part in collective campaigns please check our facebook and twitter feed regularly.