Scottish Government sets out commitments for social security system in charter

Written by Jenni Davidson on 11 January 2019 in News

‘Our Charter’, which was created by people with experience of the social security system, sets out in detail what people can expect

Older person and carer - Image credit: Fotolia

People who need to access social security in Scotland will know exactly what the can expect from the new Scottish social security system after the Scottish Government today published a charter of commitments.

Created by people with experience of the UK welfare system, ‘Our Charter’ takes the eight principals that were passed as part of the Social Security Act last year, including social security as a human right, respect for the dignity of individuals and the intention that the social security system contributes to reducing poverty, and turns them into specific actions.

It covers everything from the content and design of policy, recruitment and training of staff, and their relationship with the people they serve, through to delivery of services and the culture of Social Security Scotland

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “When people use a public service they should have no concerns about how they will be treated. 

“Whatever the contact is about and whoever they speak to, they should have full confidence that they will be treated with dignity and respect. 

“However every day we read new reports of the brutal and degrading impact of a UK social security system that has been criticised by the UN and by House of Commons Committees. 

“This charter explains how Scotland will do things differently, creating a positive and supportive system that is there for all of us should we need it. 

“Notable commitments include treating people with kindness and empathy, recruiting staff who believe in these values, delivering services in local communities, and developing policy in a way that advances the human right to social security.

“These commitments were developed by those who know the system best – people with lived experience of social security and the organisations that represent them.

“There are few, if any, parallel examples of a government working so closely with the people it serves to shape a public service. 

“The charter therefore goes to the heart of our commitment to work with the people of Scotland to co-design a system based on fairness, dignity and respect.”

The charter was welcomed by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

Rob Gowans from CAS said: “Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the launch of the charter, as it is important that people who need support from the social security system are clear about their rights, what to expect and what they can do if that standard is not met.

“We know from people coming to their local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice that this is not always the case currently, so the charter is a positive step towards creating a social security system which treats people with dignity and respect at all times.”

Social Security Scotland was established in September 2018 to handle the devolved social security system.

It has so far paid two instalments of the Carers Allowance Supplement as well as the Best Start Grant pregnancy and baby payment.

This year it will deliver four new benefits including the Best Start Grant nursery age and school age payments, Funeral Expense Assistance and Young Carer Grant.

‘Our Charter’ will be debated by MSPs in the coming weeks.

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