Social Security (Scotland) Bill.

Scottish social security agency has passed its first hurdle

MSPs have unanimously agreed the general principles of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill.

The bill lays out the foundations for the delivery of a range of benefits which are being devolved to Holyrood.

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman told MSPs the legislation “is complex and it is complicated, but it is also a golden opportunity. The prize is a social security system that is there to support people who need it, when they need it, for decades to come" .

She said the new agency would be "a new public service of which we can all be proud", and would "deliver for the people of Scotland".

MSP Alison Johnstone said: “a radical, rights-based and forward-looking system" was needed.

She went on to say: “The Bill must include stronger rights for claimants, a better system of appeals, a commitment to reduce poverty and a mechanism to up-rate benefits.”

Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed the Holyrood vote. Spokesman Rob Gowans said: “It is an important opportunity to create a new social security system that works for Scotland. But we believe that a number of important areas should still be added to the Bill, including support for the role of independent advice, and improvements to the appeals system."

The bill now moves on for consideration at committee level, before further votes in the Holyrood chamber later in 2018.

Read more about the changes Citizens Advice Scotland would like to see made to the bill here: Briefing for Social Security (Scotland) Bill 

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