With the continuing transition in the delivery of welfare between the DWP and Social Security Scotland and the passing of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2018, this event will examine what more can be done across the Scottish Government to forge social justice and ensure poverty is tackled more aggressively in Scotland.
Despite some of the progressive changes made in the newly-devolved social security system by the Scottish Government, it is unlikely that the interim statutory target of 18% to achieve by 2023-24 will be met, and in fact child poverty is projected to be at its highest by this date for over 20 years.
The Resolution Foundation identifies the key cause of this as the legacy of UK-wide benefit policy from 2010-onwards – particularly the two-child limit, the benefit value freeze up until 2019 and other benefit-related cuts.
With the devolution of social security in 2016 and the continued transition of benefits between the UK and Scottish Governments, this event will focus on the lessons that can be learned from the unanticipated difficulties experienced in the delivery and implementation of the first wave of benefits. How we can learn from these to ensure the smooth delivery of the more challenging second wave, particularly the new disability assistance benefits, which will affect over 400,000 people in Scotland and cost in excess of £2 billion – nearly 7% of all devolved spending.
Social security is not a magic bullet solution; for instance, housing can have just as big a bearing on poverty than any other policy area and this has been devolved since 1999. And in turn, poverty is at the root of so many other policy failings, from health inequalities, to the attainment gap to declining life expectancy to social mobility and the acquisition of skills. Furthermore, with poverty costing Scotland £2.9 billion per year in losses to the economy, and resulting in lower educational attainment and poorer health, there are many genuine imperatives on Scottish Government, civic and wider society to tackle it.
At this event we will analyse a number of devolved policy portfolios across government to illuminate good practice case studies as well as what more can be done to turn the tide and ensure the Scottish Government delivers on its legal obligations to meet the child poverty targets and also to eradicate wider poverty in Scotland.
09:30 Registration and Refreshments
10:25 Welcome and Introduction from the Chair
Bill Scott, Chair, Poverty and Inequality Commission
Session 1: Drivers Of Poverty And Why Levels Are Going In The Wrong Direction
The Resolution Foundation’s seminal report outlined that far from reaching the statutory target of no more than 18% of children in poverty by 2023-24, the trend is estimated to rise with child poverty estimated to be 29% by then. With an additional 100,000 in poverty if this target is not met, we ask: why is this happening?
10:40 John Dickie, Director, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland
11:00 Senior Representative, Pressure Group
11:20 Interactive Session
This peer-to-peer learning exercise will allow delegates to interact, discuss problems and issues they have come across in both their own professional and personal backgrounds, offer solutions in an open forum and generate further discussion for use in the designated Question and Discussion sessions throughout the remainder of the day.
12:10 Refreshments and Networking
Session 2: Next Steps In Implementing Social Security Reform
- As illuminated by Audit Scotland, delivery of the first wave of social security benefits was more difficult than anticipated. In looking ahead to this year until early 2021 - when the disability assistance benefits, affecting over 400,000 people in Scotland and costing in excess of £2 billion per annum, will be rolled out, what lessons can be learned to ensure delivery on the ground is as smooth as possible?
- Ensuring the Social Security Scotland team have the right people with the right skills, in accordance with the Social Security Charter and have the time and space to implement required changes
- Maintenance of positive aspirations of the charter being followed through to the point of delivery
- Navigating the transition to the devolved social security systemBroaching long-term digital solutions
Senior Representative, Public Sector
Senior Representative, Social Security
Mhoraig Green, Strategic Policy Lead, Citizen's Advice Scotland
13:00 Questions and Discussion
13:30 Lunch and Networking
Session 3: Showing Ambition And Rising To The Challenge: What More Government Can Do
The Scottish Government is generally praised for at least indicating a serious ambition to meaningfully tackle poverty through redistributive policies such as the Scottish Child Payment to be unveiled in 2021. But this will only bring child poverty down by 3% once fully rolled-out, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has pointed out that social security cannot do all the heavy lifting. Poverty can only be sustainably tackled through a range of government policy and directives. In this session we present a cross-panel of prominent stakeholders to look at some of the wider factors and policy portfolios affecting poverty in Scotland to discern what more can and ought or ought not to be done.
Rachel Statham, Economic Analyst, IPPR Scotland
Senior representative, Housing
Senior representative, Fair Work
Senior representative, Transport
Senior representative, Local Government
Senior representative, Central Government
15:40 Closing Remarks from Chair
Bill Scott, Chair, Poverty and Inequality Commission
15:45 Close of Event
*Please note the agenda is subject to change
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