Child Poverty campaigners welcome commitment to a national social security agency to deliver Scottish benefits

April 27, 2017

 

Responding to Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman’s statement to the Scottish Parliament on a national social security agency today, John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland said,

 “We very much welcome the Minister’s announcement that Scottish social security benefits will be delivered by a national social security agency working for everyone in Scotland. This should help promote fairness by improving the consistency of decision making, ensuring that where a person lives has no bearing on the level of service they receive or their ability to access the benefits they need.

 “The creation of a national delivery agency is an opportunity to ensure all staff are trained to the same high standard and that they are supported to develop a system based on a shared ethos of empathy, dignity and respect - characteristics too often missing from existing social security delivery.

 “The locally based face-to-face pre-claims agency advice and support announced today could also prove vital to many people struggling to navigate the social security system. We look forward to more detail about what this support will look like and where it will be provided.

 “The Scottish government’s commitment not to contract out assessments for disability benefits to the private sector is also welcome. Recent UK experience of contracting out medical assessments has created huge problems for sick and disabled people – with both Atos and Capita consistently failing to meet quality targets for personal independence payment. However we urge the Scottish Government not to assume that medical assessments must form part of the process for claiming disability benefits. Face to face assessments should only be used sparingly, at the claimant’s request or where there isn’t enough existing evidence to allow a decision to be made.

 ENDS

For further comment please contact John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland on 07795 340 618 or 0141 552 3656.