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by Louise Wilson
08 June 2022
Scottish social security commission chair resigns

Scottish social security commission chair resigns

A top Scottish Government advisor has resigned from her position as chair of the Scottish Commission on Social Security.

Dr Sally Witcher was set to leave her post at the end of her four-year appointment in January but has now said she will leave a few months earlier.

Writing to MSPs, she said the last year had been “challenging” and the Commission had had to “narrow our focus onto the minimum essentials” because it is unable to “take direct action to address deficits”.

She also criticised the Scottish Government’s ongoing approach to Covid, adding: “Suffice it to say that it has placed me personally in an extremely difficult position, as someone with exceptionally high underlying clinical risk who is ineligible for additional boosters and antiviral treatments. This has caused me to consider carefully how I wish to use my remaining time.”

The Commission was set up as an advisory non-departmental public body following the Social Security Act 2018.

It is tasked with scrutinising the social security system and holding ministers to account.

Dr Witcher became its first chair in January 2019, having previously been chief executive of disability charity Inclusion Scotland.

While she welcomed an upcoming review of the Commission’s governance and said she was “wholly confident” in the Scottish Government’s commitment to social security provision, Dr Witcher said she was “disappointed” the Commission had been “unable to make more headway with work on the Social Security Charter, stakeholder engagement and communications, including, importantly, with people with lived experience.”

Scottish Labour’s social security spokesperson Pam Duncan-Glancy said the resignation was a “sorry reflection on the state of affairs.”

She added: “It’s becoming clearer by the day that the SNP government have not only been unambitious, but they’ve failed to provide the support, leadership and systems needed to develop and deliver the social security system Scotland needs.”

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