Transparent or opaque? Disabled people in Scotland describe their experience of applying for Disability Living Allowance.

Pauline Banks, Margaret Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a UK social security benefit designed to meet the extra costs associated with disability. It has been suggested that some people with disabilities who are eligible for DLA do not claim the benefit, and amongst those who do claim there are inconsistencies of award decision-making. The aim of this research was to establish the level of knowledge relating to DLA amongst disabled people in Scotland and to explore the process of application from the perspective of those involved. Questionnaires were distributed through voluntary organizations. Six hundred and six completed questionnaires were received.

Findings: Almost all respondents (97%) found the form difficult to complete. Many respondents indicated that they could not have completed the forms themselves, particularly those with learning disabilities, mental health problems and/or difficulty concentrating. Many applicants believed that decisions were inconsistent and often based on inadequate understanding of individual circumstances. A significant number of applicants (42.9%) who were subsequently awarded the benefit were turned down on their first application.

Applications: The findings of this study suggest that the Scottish Parliament should ensure that disabled people have access to advice and guidance about welfare benefits irrespective of whether potential applicants are in contact with social work departments. More generally, the findings prompt questions about how the additional costs associated with disability are managed elsewhere. Social workers should be proactive in providing information and advice relating to welfare benefits in Scotland and in other countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-317
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005


  • disability living allowance
  • disability
  • Scotland


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