Changes to the way assessments for disability support will be carried out under Scotland's new social security agency have been announced at Holyrood.

The new body is to take responsibility for a range of welfare benefits, including disability support. Ministers have set out plans for how assessments will be run in-house by the agency, rather than by external firms.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said these moves would help ensure people have trust in the system. Holyrood is taking over responsibility for 11 benefits, including personal independence payments, carer's allowance and disability living allowance. The rollout is being staggered, with the system due to be fully operational by the end of the current parliamentary term.

The benefits are relied upon by 1.4 million people across the country, and are worth about £3.3bn a year. They will be administered by a new agency headquartered in Dundee and Glasgow. The first payments of a new carer's allowance supplement have been paid out, with the "best start grant" child benefit to follow before Christmas and the new young carer's grant in Autumn 2019.

In a statement to MSPs, Ms Somerville said that given social security is a "public service", the new agency should conduct eligibility assessments itself rather than contract them out to the private sector. She said the current Department of Work and Pensions system "sees private sector assessment providers prioritise profits over people", saying the Scottish agency would not "farm out assessments to private companies".

She said: "It is clear to me that the new agency is best placed to provide a flexible, person centred assessment service, fully supported by public sector healthcare professionals." Ministers also want to bring down the number of face-to-face assessments "markedly". And where such sessions are held, Ms Somerville said people would be "invited at a time that suits them and to a location that suits them", with home visits available for those who have difficulty travelling.

Audio recordings of assessments will be also introduced "as standard", to ensure transparency and for use in the appeals tribunal process.

The DWP has insisted that the current assessment processes "work for the majority of people". Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne said the new Scottish system would "not necessarily" be better than the current one, saying ministerial statements were creating a "huge raising of expectations".

She said: "The commentary that the DWP is terrible and everything is awful, and that the new system is going to be loving and supportive and all things to all people is great, but delivering it is going to be more difficult. "And if it isn't delivered in that way then expectations are going to be dashed big time, and you're going to have a lot of very unhappy people."

The Scottish Greens however welcomed the move, highlighting their role in amending the legislation setting up the agency to restrict the number of assessments carried out. MSP Alison Johnstone said: "Benefits assessments under the UK government are often cruel, humiliating and entirely unnecessary, so it's vital we take a different approach with new devolved responsibilities