A new advocacy service has been set up to help disabled people across Scotland.
The independent service, set up by the VoiceAbility charity, will be available to anyone who identifies as disabled and requires support to communicate.
The Scottish Government has pledged £20.4m over the next five years to fund the service.
VoiceAbility said it aims to create up to 100 jobs to help it deliver the service, which will be independent of government.
Social security minister Ben Macpherson said: “Accessing social security is a human right and we have an obligation to do what we can to make sure disabled people are able to get the help they need to access financial support they are entitled to.
“This is why we are investing in an independent and free advocacy service for disabled people who need support to engage with us.
“This new service will help disabled people be aware of their rights, express themselves and feel understood when applying for Scottish social security benefits.
“The service, which is unique to Scotland, is just one of the ways that we’ve responded to what people have told us they want from our new social security system.
“It is all part of our work to make sure people applying for benefits have a positive experience and find it straightforward and simple no matter what their individual circumstances are.
“Our system is designed to adapt to an individual’s needs rather than expecting them to adapt to access it and we start from a position of trust.
“I am delighted this new independent service is available to disabled people, it highlights how we are ensuring our social security system is based on dignity, fairness and respect.”
VoiceAbility chief executive Jonathan Senker said: “We are proud to have established a new base in Scotland to provide this independent advocacy service.
“Our team of skilled advocates will cover the length and breadth of Scotland to provide bespoke support to disabled people to apply for benefits from Social Security Scotland.
“The advocacy we provide will support disabled people to make sure their voices are heard when it matters most and will mean that more people know and understand their rights when applying for Social Security Scotland benefits.
“We are excited about the difference this service will make to disabled people.”
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