Scotland's new Social Security agency
Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman has been outlining plans to the Scottish parliament, for the the new Scottish Social Security agency.
The Social Security minister said: “One of our fundamental principles is that profit should never be a motive nor play any part in assessing or making decisions on people’s health and eligibility for benefits.
“We are building a system based on dignity and respect – this means an assessment process which isn’t demeaning or deliberately difficult.
“I am very clear that assessments should not be carried out by the private sector and I want to give people in Scotland this assurance as we take forward our new social security agency.
“It also means setting up an agency that has a local presence with a human face where people can go to get one-to-one support if required. This is very different to what exists at the moment.
“The new social security agency will be one of the largest executive agencies of the Scottish Government and will employ at least 1,500 staff by the time all devolved benefits are being delivered.
“Setting the new system up is a hugely complex task but a challenge that we relish and one that we are absolutely determined to get right. It is extremely important that we start how we mean to go on – by listening to people and seeking expert opinion to deliver an agency that respects people’s views and is sensitive and responsive to their different needs and requirements.”
The disability rights organisation Inclusion Scotland’s Director of policy, Bill Scott, has stated: “Far too many disabled people have been losing their benefits on the basis of poorly carried out assessments where what they have told assessors, and clear medical evidence, has been totally ignored.”
PCS has welcomed plans to deliver devolved social security from one Scottish Government agency.
Following consultation with PCS, minister for social security in Scotland, Jeane Freeman, announced plans yesterday (27 April) for 10 out of 11 benefit areas to be delivered by a new social security agency, with no private sector involvement, with discretionary housing payments remaining with the local authorities.
We engaged fully with the Scottish Government consultation on the future of social security in Scotland. Our national president, Janice Godrich, led discussions drawing on her long-serving experience as a worker in the Department for Work and Pensions.
We welcomed the minister’s statement that the new agency will be based on the principles of:
• consistency of provision across Scotland
• a person-centred, rights-based service
• a strong local, human face to improve accessibility and support, and
• the safe and secure transition for the 1.4 million people who rely on this support.