SCOTLAND’S Social Security Minister has pledged to make applying for new “complex” disability benefits as “stress-free as possible”, with the first due to begin rolling out next month.

Pilots of Child Disability Payment, which is the next benefit to be introduced by the Scottish Government, will begin in Dundee, Perth and Kinross and the Western Isles, before being made available across the country.

It will be followed by the introduction of Adult Disability Payment in spring next year, which replaces the UK Government’s Personal Independent Payment (PIP).

The Department of Work and ­Pensions (DWP) has faced huge ­controversy in recent years over the in-person tests used to assess disability benefit claims.

Ben Macpherson who was appointed Minister for Social Security and Local Government last month, has pledged the Scottish Government will take a different approach.

He said: “Social security is a ­human right, none of us know when we might need it.

“It is also a collective investment in the people of Scotland, helping to create a fairer and more equal ­society. From day one, the Scottish Government has been determined to do things differently – to treat people with respect and remove any stigma attached to claiming the support that people are entitled to.”

The Scottish Government has said people will be able to apply in a way that is “best for them” – on the phone, online or face to face – and that “stressful DWP-style” assessments will be removed.

Macpherson added: “As we start to deliver more complex disability ­benefits, we are committed to making the process of applying as stress-free as possible.

“Social Security Scotland is already making a positive difference in our communities and we look forward to delivering the next phase of the ­programme.”

Ten benefits have been introduced since Scotland was given powers over some welfare payments in 2018.

Seven of these are new and the rest are more generous than the DWP benefits they replaced, the Scottish Government says.

They include the Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment, Best Start Grant School Age Payment, Job Start Payment and Scottish Child Payment, which is available for low-income families with children under six.

Other UK Government welfare policies have been widely criticised, such as the two-child limit restricting the amount that larger families can receive in benefits.

There have also been widespread calls to scrap the associated “rape clause”, which allows child benefit for third or subsequent children only when their mothers have reported that the pregnancy was a result of sexual violence.

Control of benefits such as ­Universal Credit and child tax credit is not devolved.

Jonathan Bradshaw, Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at the ­University of York, said Scotland’s benefit system was already an ­“exemplar” for the rest of the UK.

“The key difference is the commitment to social justice, the assumption in the administration that social ­security claimants are people with needs and deserve to be treated as well as other citizens,” he said.

“This contrasts with a punitive, conditional and thoroughly unpleasant regime in England.

“In addition there are a host of ­specific measures to draw attention to – the Scottish child payment, Scotland did not abolish the Social Fund, it is much more sensitive to the cost of the school day with going to school grants, free school meals, Scotland mitigated the housing ­benefit cap, dealt with social care more ­generously and also student funding.

“The Scottish social security ­administration is how DWP in ­England should be reformed.”

He said critics had stated Scotland could use its tax-raising powers more extensively, for example by making the Scottish Child Payment universal rather than means tested.

He added: “I wish they would. Because we look to Scotland with hope that things might be better one day.”

THE Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland said evidence so far suggests that the delivery of Scottish benefits is working, and there are few issues being raised through advice services.

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Director John Dickie (above) said: “All our evidence suggests that new Scottish social security payments are making a huge difference to hard up families.

“The focus on social security as an investment stands in stark contrast to a decade of cuts to UK social security that have been the primary driver of rising child poverty in Scotland and across the UK.”

He said the priority for the Scottish Government must now be its pledge to increase the Scottish Child Payment, which is currently £10 a week.

He added: “The payment needs to be at least doubled in the next year to keep families afloat, ensure the interim child poverty targets are met and lay the foundation on which the wider action on jobs, childcare and housing needed to end child poverty can be built.”