Charities demand full devolution of welfare

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​Leading charities say full devolution of welfare is the only tangible option to help Scotland's most vulnerable 

15th September 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Leading Scottish charities are demanding that Westminster devolves full powers on welfare to Scotland.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Associations (SCVO), Carers Scotland and Enable Scotland told the Scottish Parliament’s welfare reform committee today (15 September) that the Scotland bill as it currently stands does not go far enough to secure the future of vulnerable Scots.

Greater devolved powers have failed to create the powers needed to deal with the more draconian reforms, the charities state, and full devolution from Westminster is needed.  

In its submission, SCVO said that it believed the Scotland bill does not transfer true social security powers and only afforded limited changes.

Carers Scotland also expressed its “disappointment” with Westminster plans and Enable Scotland called for Access to Work programme to be passed into Holyrood’s hands.

"We remain concerned about the lack of openness and transparency of both the UK parliamentary process for the Scotland bill and intergovernmental meetings to take forward the new powers,” SCVO said in its submission.

“This approach – driven by political expediency – is the antithesis of the principles politicians say they want to embed in a Scottish system."

People need to be properly supported to ensure they are not disadvantaged

The sector has a “strong message for the Scottish Government,” said SCVO, in that “people themselves must be at the heart of shaping the new powers, particularly those at the “hard end” of failed policy and struggling public services.”

Failing to do this, will fail individuals and families from the outset, the organisation said.

Carers Scotland accused Westminster of squandering the opportunity to deliver a more cohesive benefits system, while Enable Scotland said current plans would “limit access for Scottish jobseekers and increase bureaucracy for specialist support organisations”.

“Devolution of some benefits but not all has the potential to increase this complexity and therefore people need to be properly supported to ensure they are not disadvantaged,” the charity stated.

And the hugely controversial fit-for-work assessment regime was slammed by cancer charity Marie Curie.

It said that when time is short, a person should be able to enjoy as “high a quality of life as possible, and should not be required to work if they do not want to”.

Although many people living with a terminal illness are keen to continue working they should never be compelled to work, it said.  

Figures released by the DWP on suggests that thousands of people over the last four years have died shortly after being declared fit for work.

“This is unacceptable and we would urge the UK government to look at the welfare system and how the fit-for-work assessment process is carried out,” the charity urged.   

It comes as Holyrood’s devolution committee urged Scottish secretary David Mundell to strengthen the Scotland Bill in line with Smith Commission proposals.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “People in Scotland want – and were promised – extensive new powers and instead the Tories have offered the bare minimum.

“While any new powers transferred to Scotland are of course welcome, it couldn’t be clearer that the UK government simply must go further in order to meet the aspirations of people in Scotland and frontline third-sector organisations and to fulfil the Westminster parties' vow to the Scottish people.”