Disability organisations fear a postcode lottery if devolved powers over welfare policy see more control handed to local councils.

The concerns were raised after Cosla suggested that if councils administered some benefits, it would make it easier to arrange support for those in need of social services.

In December, Cosla - the council umbrella organisation - published a plan for ensuring council services complied with the UN declaration of the rights of disabled people.

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This suggested the arrival of significant welfare powers at Holyrood would provide an opportunity to align benefits with the ongoing integration of health and social care.

But the body representing most local authorities insists it would remain the Scottish Government’s responsibility to decide who receives support or how much they get.

Cosla’s plan says: “There is an historic opportunity to ensure that benefits for carers, disabled people and people who have chronic health conditions are properly aligned with the health and social care system, which is itself undergoing a process of integration.

“We are interested in exploring the concept of a single gateway administered by local authorities, which would allow people to access appropriate levels of financial support based on need and agreed personal outcomes.”

The proposal has caused alarm among some disabled people’s groups. Sally Witcher, chief executive of independent living charity Inclusion Scotland said: “We’re particularly concerned at what appear to be proposals that social security benefit money and assessments should be devolved to local authorities.

“We fear that money for benefits could get used for other purposes, that post-code lotteries would ensue.”

She added that it might also make it difficult for disabled people who move from one local authority to another, who already risk having their care packages cut if they are reassessed by their new council.

“Disabled people we have engaged with have long been adamant that they do not want local authorities to take on responsibility for social security benefits,” she said.

Tressa Burke, chief executive of Glasgow Disability Alliance said suspicion of local authorities was widespread among disabled people who felt they had lost out under personalisation and self-directed support policies.

She said: “Disabled people are a very easy target and the fact that disabled people’s packages have been slashed left right and centre mean any Scottish welfare system would need to be run by a national body. It can’t be local authorities.”

However Cosla says the objections are based on a misunderstanding and councils are not suggesting they should make decisions about who gets benefits or how much they get. Instead, they claim it would make sense for any new welfare system to be administered by councils who already handle housing benefit, council tax benefit and the Scottish Welfare Fund. The alternative, insiders say, is a whole new Scottish social security system, which would be expensive and potentially disconnected with existing social care bodies.

Councillor Peter Johnston, Cosla spokesman for health and wellbeing, added: “What local government is suggesting is a means of administering devolved benefits in a way that is person centred and cost effective.”

He said that such a change might force councils themselves to improve the delivery and administration of other local government functions, like housing benefit and council tax, so as to make the whole system work better for claimants.

“It is hard to see what about these proposals could spark such concern,” he added.

“However what is absolutely clear is that another central bureaucracy does not offer a cost effective sustainable or sensible solution for anyone. Neither would it offer any greater protection than could be delivered if DPOs worked with local government in designing an appropriate local solution.”

He said: “Our preference would be to work with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations around the type of reassurances and safeguards they would wish to see in a local system.”