By working together we will shape a fairer welfare system

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​Jeane Freeman, Scotland's social security minister, gives a progress report on how Scotland's bold new system is shaping up 

14th March 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

After nearly two years of listening, consulting, planning and preparation, we’re now just months away from the first money in people’s pockets and the first staff being there to help.

As might be expected with a service that will ultimately be responsible for around spending £3.3bn and serving around 1.4 million people a year, the parliamentary process has been thorough and detailed.

But what has really struck me  about the passage of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, is the extent to which it’s been shaped by so many different people and groups.

And it’s all the better for it.

In all of my professional life so far I have learned the real value of involving those with experience when you have problems to solve, difficult issues to work through – and new legislation to make.  Our parliamentary system in Scotland recognises that value and builds that listening and involvement into its work. 

Jeane Freeman

Jeane Freeman

Our parliamentary system in Scotland recognises that value and builds that listening and involvement into its work. 

But for this new public service, we’ve gone a bit further and directly involved and listened to and worked alongside individuals and organisations from the outset. 

And we’ve seen the value of that over the last few weeks in the Stage 2 committee hearings. These have just finished and every week we discussed ways to improve the draft Bill.

Many of these ideas came from the very organisations working with and for the people who will use our Scottish social security system and help thousands of Scots every week.

In just a few months the first Scottish social security payments will start to be made

Of course, we haven’t always agreed on everything. Sometimes there have been practical reasons why something wouldn’t work, sometimes there might have been stakeholders who have different interests in a particular issue or resource reasons why a commitment can’t in good conscience be made by government.

But by the very process of working together, listening and understanding different views, perhaps especially when we disagree,  we are improving the system we’re creating for the people of Scotland.

 I am confident that we will keep on working together, not only through the final parliamentary step of Stage 3, but in the months ahead as we take over responsibility for each of the devolved benefits, build our new social security agency and work to ensure it delivers in a way that is true to the rights based service we are enshrining in legislation. 

We will do that with all of the organisations who have worked so hard so far, with the benefit of the significant experience brought by our 2,400 Experience Panel volunteers  and with the skill and expertise of many others keen to help. 

In just a few months the first Scottish social security payments will start to be made.  

The first payments from a social security service we’re building together and one that will work for the people of Scotland.