Inclusion Scotland chief exec appointed as first chair of Scottish Commission on Social Security

Written by Jenni Davidson on 7 January 2019 in News

The commission will provide independent scrutiny of the new Scottish social security system

Scottish Social Security Commission chair Dr Sally Witcher - Image credit: Poverty and Inequality Commission

Inclusion Scotland chief executive Dr Sally Witcher has been appointed as the first chair of the Scottish Commission on Social Security.

The commission will be responsible for scrutinising the Scottish social security system to ensure it is delivered according to the principles of the Social Security Charter, which will be published shortly.

The charter will enshrine what people can expect from the new social security system, including that the system is based on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

Witcher has worked in a variety of roles relating to social security over the past 30 years.

As well as being chief executive of national disabled people’s organisation Inclusion Scotland, she is deputy chair of the Disability and Carers’ Benefits Expert Advisory Group and a member of the Scottish Government’s Poverty and Inequality Commission.

From 2006 to 2010 Witcher was a senior civil servant in the Office for Disability Issues, part of the DWP, and before that she chaired the UK Government’s Disability Employment Advisory Committee and worked in consultancy and academia.

She has also been the director of the Child Poverty Action Group and been a member of a number of government and research advisory groups, including for the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.

Witcher is herself disabled and in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.  

She was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to disabled people.

Announcing the appointment, social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I am delighted to appoint Sally Witcher to this new but vitally important role. 

“As we continue to build a Scottish social security system it is only right that we are held to account for the decisions we take.

“I know that Sally shares my desire to create a social security system based upon the principles of dignity, fairness and respect and I warmly welcome her to this position.”

Witcher said: “The Social Security Act Scotland represents an historic opportunity to establish a coherent system based on dignity and respect.

“The challenge now will be to ensure that the positive commitments set out in the charter are translated into the real-life experience of people claiming devolved benefits.

“The Scottish Commission on Social Security will have a key role to play in scrutinising developments and promoting accountability.

“It is a great honour to be appointed to the role of chair of the commission.”

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