A review of Social Security activities over 2018 for our annual report.
Social security in Scotland is undergoing a makeover – and disabled people, people with long term conditions and unpaid carers have been central to the change.
The last twelve months have been critical, seeing the introduction a new Social Security (Scotland) Act, the establishment of Social Security Scotland, which will oversee Scotland’s newly devolved powers over social security, and the delivery of two new entitlements directly to its clients – Carers Allowance Supplement and the Best Start Grant. It is expected that by 2021, the new agency will be administering a newly designed Young Carers Grant, the devolution of Personal Independence Payments alongside a range of further entitlements.
In Spring 2018, we worked with a range of other organisations to propose amendments to the new legislation underpinning this change, which saw the introduction of a right to advocacy for disabled people accessing the new entitlements, despite the first draft of the Bill containing no reference to advocacy at all. The next stage of this work is to ensure that these services are properly funded and resourced, so they can do their job and over the coming months and we will be working with the Scottish Government to cement the new rights in a set of advocacy service standards.
As the legislation was debated by MSPs, we also added our support to Marie Curie and MND Scotland’s award-winning campaign to widen access to disability assistance for people with terminal illnesses and have been members of the Scottish Government’s stakeholder group on social security in this area.
In November, we have supported young carers organisations to jointly discuss the rules related to Young Carers Grant, a new £300 annual payment for young carers aged 16 to 18 which is expected to be introduced in 2019, by hosting a consultation event and noting the need for eligibility to cover emotional as well as physical caring roles.
Throughout this process, the ALLIANCE has been bringing the voice of our members to the forefront. Having been invited to sit on a range of advisory groups, set up to support the implementation of the new entitlements, we have been advising that a fair, human rights based social security system must be accessible to the people it aims to support, with clear rules, responsibilities and redress at its heart.
Our work goes beyond the policy to the operation side of social security too, having supported the Scottish Government to meet with a range of organisations to discuss the physical environments of each of its buildings that will be used in the delivery of social security. Members identified not just the requirement to be physically accessible, but also to ensure these spaces and welcoming with regular feedback sought from people using them.
It is an exciting time to be involved in this work and we look forward to continuing to press for important changes with, and on behalf of, our members.