Scotland Welfare Rights Conference

Friday 7 June 2019

University of Strathclyde, Technology and Innovation Centre,
99 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1RD


The last year has seen major changes in the welfare rights world. Scotland’s new Social Security Agency is now delivering new benefits including Best Start grants providing more support for low income families. At the same time, with more and more people claiming universal credit, there is mounting evidence that too many people are being left worse off and are struggling to access their entitlement.

This conference (the only one of its kind in Scotland) will provide an opportunity to learn about all the latest developments, helping you to maximise your clients’ incomes. It will also provide a unique chance to join discussion with political leaders, welfare rights experts and policy makers on how principles of dignity and respect in social security are being experienced in practice.


9.30 Arrival, registration, coffee and exhibition stand viewing

10.00 Setting the scene

  • John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland

Keynote speaker

  • Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security, Scottish Government

11.00 Coffee

11.15 Workshops – morning session (see below for choice)

12.30 Lunch and exhibition stand viewing

1.30 Workshops – afternoon session (repeat of morning sessions)

2.45 Coffee

3.00 Plenary session

  • Chaired by BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson
Dignity and respect in social security – how is this being experienced in practice, and
what are the challenges ahead?
  • David Wallace, Chief Executive, Social Security Scotland
  • Jessica Burns, Tribunal Judge, Social Entitlement Chamber, (formerly Regional Tribunal Judge for Scotland), non-Executive Member of Social Security Scotland Advisory Body
  • Dr Sally Witcher OBE, Chair, Scottish Commission on Social Security

4.00 Final remarks and close


Delegates are invited to attend two workshops from the below list. When booking you can select your preferred choice – we will do our best to allocate your preferences;

It’s not just about houses – social security’s role in creating and preventing homelessness

Kirsty McKechnie, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Ali Lord, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Jennifer Brennan, Welfare Rights Officer, Govan Law Centre

In this workshop we will:

• Present findings from CPAG’s Early Warning System about how the current social security system can lead to homelessness

• Look at available solutions and hear from Govan Law Centre’s prevention of homelessness project

• Discuss what needs to change

This will be an interactive workshop which will contribute to a report about social security and homelessness.

Universal credit migration – the latest

Simon Osborne, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG

This workshop looks at the latest rules and plans regarding the transfer of current claimants of ‘legacy’ benefits and tax credits to universal credit. Topics covered will include:

• ‘Natural’ migration and claimants with a severe disability

• ‘Managed’ migration – plans for piloting in 2019 and the wider process from 2020

• Key concerns: transitional protection, problems with claiming, ‘failed’ claims

Scottish social security – from cradle to grave

Mark Willis, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Alison Melville, Best Start Grant Policy Manager, Scottish Government

Cath McKenna, Funeral Support Payment Senior Policy Advisor, Scottish Government

The first devolved Scottish social security payments have expanded the support available in the early years of childhood and for people responsible for a funeral. The Best Start grant pregnancy and baby payment was introduced at the end of last year, with the early education and school age payments to follow. The funeral support payment is also due to open for applications this summer. This workshop will provide a closer look at how delivery of these new benefits is taking shape.

A Menu for Change – ensuring food banks remain a last resort

David Hilber, Project Officer (A Menu for Change), CPAG in Scotland

Dr Mary Anne MacLeod, Research and Policy Officer (A Menu for Change), Oxfam Scotland

More and more people are turning to food banks but we know many people are referred to them unnecessarily. They might have been able to access cash if they had been given proper advice at the right time. This workshop will share practical ways to ensure people have exhausted all of their statutory options before they turn to charity for food.

Tackling child poverty – local area reports one year on

Dr Rosie Ilett, Glasgow Child Poverty Coordinator, CPAG in Scotland

Hanna McCulloch, National Coordinator, Local Child Poverty Action Reports, Improvement Service

The duty on local authorities and NHS partners to develop innovative work to address child poverty is over a year old. Documenting and reviewing that work through Local Child Poverty Action Reports is fully underway. This workshop will update participants on the first year’s progress, with speakers from across Scotland providing some inspiring examples, particularly focussing on income maximisation and financial inclusion.

Advising people from Europe – the final countdown?

Henri Krishna, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

This workshop will examine where we are now in terms of the rights of people from the European Economic Area (EEA) to benefits in Great Britain,including those devolved to Scotland. Topics covered will include:

• EEA nationals’ rights following the UK’s exit from the EU

• Recent changes to legislation and new caselaw affecting EEA nationals

• Problem areas for EEA nationals when claiming benefits

• EEA nationals’ rights to Scottish benefits

Health conditions and conditionality

Ed Pybus, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

There are times in the life of a universal credit claim when people with health conditions and disabilities are far more vulnerable to being sanctioned, for example while waiting for their capability for work to be assessed by the DWP. A sanction can mean losing the means of paying for food and fuel for weeks or months. This workshop looks at some of the issues people face and what they can do to reduce the risk.

Universal credit and prison

Barbara Donegan, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Scotland has a high prison population and many people in contact with the criminal justice system have health problems or are vulnerable. Detention for even a brief period can have a major impact on family finances and entitlement to universal credit. This workshop examines the difficulties that arise when someone has been remanded in custody or received a custodial sentence.

It will look at:

• Problems with making a universal credit claim

• Help paying the rent

• The impact on decisions about limited capability for work for universal credit

and considers some answers and practical solutions.

Booking your place

The delegate fee is £190 including lunch, or £180.50 if you are a CPAG Member (membership number must be quoted when booking to obtain a discount)


We will have an exhibition space hosting exhibitors showcasing their work, products and services. Exhibition package includes:

  • One exhibitor place
  • Attendance at all conference sessions including an AM and PM workshop
  • A 4 foot table, table cloth and chair
  • Organisation profile in delegate pack
  • Lunch and refreshments

Price of exhibition package £270 (plus VAT)

Please note each additional person wishing to attend must book a separate delegate place.

‘Another excellent event, very thought provoking’
‘Great opportunity for networking’
‘Would recommend to others’

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   Buttle UK

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Independent Living Fund

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NHS Health Scotland

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Social Security Scotland 

Social Security Scotland is a new public service, based on dignity, fairness and respect, that will deliver the social security benefits being devolved to the Scottish Government.

Citizens Advice Scotland 

Citizens Advice Scotland hosts the Kinship Care Advice Service for Scotland. This service provides support, advice, information and peer support tailored to the needs of Kinship Care families.

Epilepsy Scotland

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Advice Pro

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We help people gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.

Home Energy Scotland

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