Scotland Welfare Rights Conference

Annual Conference: Welfare Rights 2016
Friday 10 June 2016, 10am to 4pm

University of Strathclyde, Technology and Innovation Centre (Main Entrance), 99 George Street, Glasgow G1 1 RD

The pace of change in social security is unrelenting as universal credit rolls out, new powers are devolved to Scotland, wider UK welfare ‘reforms’ continue to impact on families and the Scottish Welfare Fund gains a statutory underpinning.

Book now to hear the latest developments as well as explore how rights to social security can support children’s rights to achieve the goal of ending child poverty.

As the newly elected Scottish Parliament considers how to use its new social security powers, the conference will also hear a range of perspectives on how ‘dignity’ can be built into the social security system at Scottish and UK level.


Arrival, registration, coffee and exhibition stand viewing

10.00 Setting the scene

  • John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland

Keynote speakers

  • Jeane Freeman MSP, Minister for Social Security, Scottish Government
  • Tam Baillie, Children and Young People’s Commissioner in Scotland

11.00 Coffee

11.15 Workshops – morning session

12.30 Lunch and exhibition stand viewing

1.30 Workshops – afternoon session (repeat of morning sessions)

2.45 Coffee

3.00 Plenary session: Building dignity into the social security system

  • Professor Peter Dwyer, Professor of Social Policy, York
  • Sally Witcher, Chief Executive, Inclusion Scotland
  • Mark Simpson, School of Law, University of Ulster

Chaired by broadcaster and journalist Keith Aitken.

4.00 Final remarks and close


  • Genuine Prospect of Work
  • Universal credit and housing
  • Scottish Welfare Fund – better than before?
  • Universal credit - what’s new
  • Personal independence payment – three years on
  • Universal credit full service
  • Welfare reform – softening the blow
  • Vulnerable witnesses – handling and assessing their evidence
Genuine Prospect of Work

Henri Krishna, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Martin Williams, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG

The UK rules on when European Economic Area nationals have a right to reside as a jobseeker or retain worker’s rights have been progressively tightened. At the heart is a requirement that after a short period claimants must demonstrate ‘compelling evidence of a genuine prospect of work’ (the ‘GPoW test’). The DWP interpretation of compelling evidence is that the claimant has a job offer or awaits the result of an interview.

In this workshop we will explore:

  • The law related to the GPoW test
  • The lawfulness of the GPoW regulations
  • Arguments to challenge JSA refusals arising from GPoW
Universal credit and housing

Sean Doak, Welfare Rights Officer, Dunedin Canmore Housing

Colleen Rowan, Membership and Policy Officer, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations

Denise Beck, Welfare Rights Officer, Dunedin Canmore Housing

Universal credit may affect people’s ability to meet their housing costs. Rent arrears may mount up because of issues particular to universal credit, for example initial payment delays or housing costs being paid to the claimant as part of their monthly payment rather than directly to the landlord. Broader welfare reform issues that affect universal credit may contribute to rent arrears, for example sanctions or frozen Local Housing Allowance rates. This workshop will:

  • Highlight housing issues for universal credit claimants
  • Explore advice solutions
  • Outline what is happening at policy level, for example with devolved powers
Scottish Welfare Fund – better than before?

Barbara Donegan, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Nicola Dickie, Scottish Welfare Fund Development Manager, COSLA

Alison Jack, Scottish Welfare Fund Review Team Manager, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

The pressure that welfare reform exerts on individuals, families and communities means that the Scottish Welfare Fund has never been a more vital safety net. Now that the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 has placed the interim scheme into law, with regulations and statutory guidance, what are the prospects for applicants? What are the main differences between the interim and permanent schemes? What lessons can be drawn from the interim scheme, and what difference will the presence of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman in the review process make both to individuals and to national standards of good practice? This workshop provides an opportunity to discuss the latest developments affecting the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Universal credit – what’s new

Kirsty McKechnie, Welfare Rights Worker, Early Warning System, CPAG in Scotland

Simon Osborne, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG

This workshop will look at current developments in universal credit (UC), in particular the latest on official plans for the roll out of the benefit and the practical experiences of claimants and advisers, drawn from CPAG in Scotland’s Early Warning System. The workshop will include a round-up of recent legal developments, and allow participants to share knowledge and experience. Topics covered will include:

  • Roll out plans and timetable
  • Navigating UC legislation
  • UC feedback and practicalities – Early Warnings
Personal independence payment – three years on

Alison Gillies, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Jon Shaw, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

Personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA) will soon be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but for now the DWP is pressing on with the reassessment of working age DLA claimants for PIP. With PIP appeals now the most common type of social security tribunal and the UK government signalling its intention to tighten the rules further, this workshop provides an opportunity for advisers to learn about and discuss the latest PIP developments.

Universal credit full service

Judith Paterson, Welfare Rights Co-ordinator, CPAG in Scotland

Universal credit has been introduced for all new claimants in areas of the country known as ‘full service areas’, due to expand nationally from 2016 to 2018. There are a few differences from the rules that apply in areas not yet part of the full service. More importantly, in the full service, people with a much wider range of needs and circumstances will begin to claim universal credit. This workshop will look at what the full service involves, what it means for people with health conditions, with children, in work, and others, and the practical issues of making and managing a claim.

Welfare reform – softening the blow

Hanna McCulloch, Policy and Parliamentary Officer, Early Warning System, CPAG in Scotland

Angela Toal, Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

The UK Government used the 2015 Summer Budget and Autumn Statement to announce a wide range of changes to the social security system, compounding the raft of reforms and cuts implemented since 2010. This workshop will highlight the main proposals, explaining what they are, when they will take effect and the impact they will have on low income households. The workshop will give you the opportunity to consider what could be done at local and national level to alleviate the impact of these changes, including how powers being devolved to the Scottish Parliament could be used to mitigate their effect.

Vulnerable witnesses – handling and assessing their evidence

Edward Jacobs, Judge of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber)

Who is a vulnerable witness? What are the causes of their vulnerability and what are its effects for tribunals? What principles govern the way tribunals handle these witnesses and assess their evidence? What practical problems do tribunals face (compared to the courts, say)? What materials are there to assist representatives and tribunals? The Senior President’s Practice Statement. The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014.

As usual, the workshop will benefit from contributions by participants who are encouraged to come with examples of actual problems they encounter in practice


Our 2016 conference will be held at a new venue: University of Strathclyde, Technology and Innovation Centre (Main Entrance), 99 George Street, Glasgow G1 1 RD (see map). There are good public transport links and the venue is fully wheelchair accessible. 


We will have an exhibition space hosting exhibitors showcasing their work, products and services. If you are interested in exhibiting please email for further details.

Booking a place and further information

The delegate fee is £155. To book a place or an exhibition stand please complete our online booking form or conference booking form and return it to us.


'Great friendly atmosphere'

'Very dynamic, current, up-to-date information'

'Fantastic day, essential for welfare rights workers'

'Great for networking'