Uptake of benefits discussed at summit of ministers and councils
DWP saves ten times what it loses in benefit fraud in unclaimed benefits
Welfare and social justice illustration by Rob Grasso - Holyrood Magazine
Councils have met with social security minister Jeane Freeman to discuss how to encourage more people to claim benefit support they are entitled to.
It is thought as little as half of people entitled to Jobseekers Allowance claim the support, while many people miss out on Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit.
The DWP estimates it saves around £13bn a year across the UK from people who don't claim what they are entitled to, ten times what it says it loses in benefits fraud.
In Scotland, which will take control of 11 additional benefits after the Scotland Act 2016, it is estimated that, in 2014/15, there could be over 500,000 cases of individuals or families not claiming the benefits they were entitled to.
The summit was attended by representatives of councils across Scotland and Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley.
Freeman thanked Rowley for his work on the subject.
“Social Security is a human right," she said.
"That is the foundation for the social security system we are building for Scotland and making sure that everyone gets the financial support they are entitled to is one of the first steps towards putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security in Scotland.
“In Scotland today there are still many people on low incomes who are not claiming the benefits that are theirs by right. That might be because they don’t know what they are entitled to, or it could be the system is too complex. Whatever the reasons, we need to understand them and work out how they can be overcome."
Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA spokesperson for Communities, added: “Ensuring everyone in Scotland claims the support they are entitled to is something councils and our local partners have been involved in for many years.
“Councils expertise and local knowledge has played a huge part in efforts to maximise incomes for Communities across the country. Collaborative working, and sustained joint effort, will make a real difference to people all across Scotland.”
Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will join campaigners from the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union to protest the closure of Jobcentres in the west of Scotland.
“In places where poverty is high and job opportunities low, closing down Jobcentres is counterproductive," he is expected to say.
“The Tories are planning to force a million more working people to attend a Jobcentre, under its plans for in-work sanctions, while simultaneously closing one in every ten Jobcentres across the country.
“That is the twisted logic of this Government’s chaotic austerity agenda. The closures make it absolutely clear that this Government has no interest in helping people to find decent and secure work.
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