Scottish Government urged to support the rights of seldom heard people who access social security

Section: The ALLIANCEType: News Item Date Published: 14th June 2017

The ALLIANCE publishes new research findings on social security assessment processes.

New research published by the ALLIANCE urges the Scottish Government to promote and support the rights of seldom heard people who access social security.

Responsibility for several social security entitlements, including disability and carer payments, are being devolved to Scotland. As part of its national consultation on its new powers, the Scottish Government commissioned the ALLIANCE to consult seldom heard people on what a new Scottish social security assessment process should look like.

We heard from over 300 people with direct experience of social security who identify as belonging to at least one seldom heard group, including members of the BME and LGBT+ communities, unpaid carers, people with lived experience of mental health problems, and people living in rural or remote parts of Scotland.

Finding out directly from seldom heard people who navigate the current system is intended to support a new approach that is designed to reflect the values of person centeredness, co-production and human rights and help fulfil the Scottish Government’s Vision and Principles to treat people with dignity and respect. The ALLIANCE’s report, demonstrates that people experience many difficulties with the current system that could be corrected by the new Scottish Social Security Agency.

The vast majority of people agree that people with life-long or life-limiting conditions should be awarded lifetime payments, and that many more awards could be made using a simple application form, without the need for an additional interview which people often experience as unnecessary, intrusive and upsetting. Easier access to tailored information and advice, independent advocacy and other means of supported decision-making would go a long way to helping people better understand their rights and exercise them.

Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive, the ALLIANCE said: “As our research shows, there are a wide range of experiences among people currently in receipt of social security, many of them negative. We welcome the Scottish Government’s recent announcements that the new Scottish system will be underpinned by human rights principles and have a local presence. There are several other steps the ALLIANCE has recommended, including a focused approach to changing the culture surrounding social security at a national level as well as within the system itself. Ensuring the new Scottish Social Security Agency’s independence and accountability, and empowering seldom heard people to have a meaningful say in how the new system is run, could go some way to helping achieve the aspiration to transform social security in Scotland.”

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