Scottish Social Security Requires “Cultural Shift”, States Holyrood Committee Report

A new Scottish welfare system must move away from the negative stereotyping of benefit claimants as "skivers", MSPs have said.

Holyrood's welfare reform committee warned that the implementation of a distinctive Scottish system would require a "huge culture shift".

The committee has been investigating the future delivery of social security.

This is in light of new powers over welfare being devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

In a report setting out their conclusions, MSPs called for an overhaul of the current approach to ensure that "the same dignity and respect that is normally offered to NHS patients is offered to benefit claimants".

They said: "Witnesses suggested that elements of the current system appear to operate under an umbrella philosophy which regards those on social security universally as 'skivers'.

"The welfare reform committee rejects this narrative and believes that it is neither realistic nor helpful.

"We believe that a new Scottish social security system requires a huge culture shift."

'Devastating impact'

MSPs said the new system should be non-punitive, with sanctions used only as a last resort, and much more accessible with clear and simple communication in plain English.

The committee recommends the introduction of long-term disability living allowance and personal independence payment awards for people with severe, long-term disability or illness and supports the Scottish government's proposed increase in carer's allowance to at least the amount paid in jobseekers allowance.

The report also calls for the housing element of universal credit to be paid fortnightly, direct to landlords, and for the Scottish government to use the new powers to immediately abolish the so-called "bedroom tax".

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said: "We agree with the welfare reform committee that the current welfare system is in need of a significant overhaul.

"Its comprehensive report supports our aims of ensuring our new social security powers will treat people with respect and dignity, and be delivered in a fair and efficient way but there is also a need for the UK government to do more to improve the benefits it will continue to deliver."

Source: BBC

Note: the Welfare Reform Committee’s report, The Future Delivery of Social Security in Scotland, can be read here:

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