Third Force News (27/10/2015) – Scotland's social security system will be used to promote fairness and destigmatise people claiming benefits, according to a Scottish Government report.
Charities and voluntary groups made a significant contribution to a Scottish Government paper on how new, devolved social security powers will be administered.
More than 70 organisations working with children, carers, disabled people, ethnic minority representative groups and older people have taken part in discussions around the new powers.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organsations (SCVO) collated the responses of many in the third sector, and these recommendations have been accepted by the government.
A wide range of responses were given on what could be done with the new powers – and the consistent view is that that Scotland need to take a fairer approach, one that does not stigmatise or punish people who receive benefits.
The Scottish Government will now publish a further paper by the end of the year setting out its outline vision for social security in Scotland.
The third sector is rooted in people’s lives so it’s ideally placed to see how new powers are used for the greater good
John Downie, director of public affairs at SCVO, said: “This is a great success for the many third sector organisations of all shapes and sizes who have been closely engaging with the Scottish Government on how to make sure fairness sits at the heart of Scotland’s new approach to social security.
“The third sector is rooted in people’s lives and in local communities across the country, so it’s ideally placed to see how newly transferred powers might be used for the greater good.
“We presented a strong message to the Scottish Government that we must use the new powers to build a fairer and stronger system which supports people when they need it most. It’s great to see that they listened and we look forward to seeing these principles be turned into practice.”
Social justice secretary Alex Neil said the contribution of Scotland’s third sector ensured Scotland’s new social security system will treat people with respect and dignity.
He said: “The new social security powers are part of the conversation on what will make a fairer Scotland. This feedback is helping us develop our own social security system which we will ensure treats individuals with respect and removes the barriers that cause confusion and anxiety for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The new system will have at its heart a set of principles and values. This will include ensuring people are treated with respect and dignity when applying for, being assessed for, and receiving disability-related benefits."
Neil said the Scottish Government would create a fairer system that the current UK-wide approach.
“Through the current system many people, including carers, young people, families and those who can’t work because of disabilities or mental health, have all faced cuts and discrimination as a result of the UK government welfare reform programme."
Source: Third Force News