Creating a better, fairer social security system

Benefitassessmentweb

Social security minister Jeane Freeman outlines her vision for a better, fairer social security system run from Scotland

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3rd May 2017 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

The next step in establishing Scotland’s new social security system took place last week when I set out to parliament the latest in a series of key decisions relating to the shape and scope of the agency.

I spoke about the principles with which we are approaching our new powers over social security. We want a system based on dignity and respect. One which puts people first. A very different approach to what we’ve become used to.

That’s why I confirmed that, as well as having a central location, the agency will have a local presence with a human face.

Jeane Freeman

Jeane Freeman

And I spoke about the principle of profit not having a place in our new social security system. So I was proud to be able to rule out the use of private companies in assessing people for the benefits we will deliver.

Profit should never be a motive in these important assessments and I wanted to let the people who will be relying on benefits know that I had listened to them and was making a clear decision on this issue.

I was pleased to get the backing of a range of important third sector organisations on this and even more pleased to get a positive reaction from members of the public.

In the past 11 months as social security minister, I have learned a great deal about how the current system goes about assessments. Over and over again, I have heard the personal experiences of so very many who have found this to be one of the most difficult, distressing and demeaning aspects of their whole experience. 

I know that people working in the third sector will be very aware of this problem too and will have first-hand experience of people who find the existing system complicated, difficult to navigate and, at times, deliberately obtuse. Having unaccountable private companies making money from the assessment process only compounds the distress and humiliation many people feel with the current system.

It’s just not something we could condone in our own social security system and I wanted to provide this reassurance to people in Scotland as early as possible.

We have taken our decisions based on what people have told us about how the current system operates. And it is this collaborative, partnership working that we want to continue.

We’ll do this by working closely with our Experience Panels and Expert Advisory Groups as we continue to build a system that fits the needs of Scotland..

With at least 1,500 staff, the new social security agency will be one of the largest executive agencies run by the Scottish Government. Delivering 10 of the 11 devolved benefits and with an annual running cost of £150 million, this is a complex and challenging process but one that we are absolutely determined to get right.

We’ve all seen first-hand the damage welfare reform is causing in communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

We will demonstrate that there is a better and fairer way of delivering social security to those who are entitled to, and who rely on, that support.

This government will build a social security system that will stand both the test of time and the test of trust from the people of Scotland relying on it.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman 

5th May 2017 by Rose Burn

Let's hope the new system works rather better than the Scottish government's support for the farming and rural community has been.