Fair investment in the services people rely on, recognition for the value of care, and a human rights based approach to social security.

Reimagine investment and the economy

  • Embed a human rights budgeting approach within all aspects of public finance.
  • Develop a taxation and revenue raising system rooted in human rights, poverty reduction and climate action.
  • Work towards the principles of a Wellbeing Economy.

The current approach to the economy and public finances has left far too many people behind. A narrow focus on GDP growth figures says little about the quality of people’s lives, whether there is equality of opportunity, or their needs are being met and their human rights upheld. At the same time, a flawed narrative comparing public finances to household budgets has been used to justify sweeping cuts to essential public services, with little regard to the effects on those reliant on them.

We need a completely different approach to budgeting and the economy. The ALLIANCE is a long-standing advocates for embedding human rights budgeting within all areas of public finance. Taking a human rights approach to revenue generation, budget allocation and spending would support the progressive realisation of rights as well as transparency and accountability in public finances.

This should be complemented by an approach to taxation and revenue raising geared towards delivering on rights and key policy objectives including poverty reduction and climate action. Fair taxation is essential for delivering high quality public services for everyone, and there is now clear public support for raising taxes if that leads to better public services.

The UK Government should also work towards the principles of the Wellbeing Economy, seeking to develop an economy in service of people and the planet. Essential areas such as care must be fully included and valued, recognising the huge economic contribution that is made by both paid and unpaid carers.

Ensure social security and work deliver dignity for disabled people

  • Scrap proposals to align WCA and PIP criteria.
  • Develop better working arrangements between the Scottish and UK governments to make the devolution of social security more flexible.
  • Enforce the duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

Although disability social security payments have been devolved, interactions between the Scottish and UK social security systems are complex, especially in relation to employment. Welfare reforms over the past 14 years have had an especially negative impact on disabled people, and proposals for further reform appear to prioritise cost cutting over human rights and wellbeing.

Research by Scope has shown that disabled people face additional costs averaging £975 per month. Proposals to align Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) criteria, and to change PIP from a recurring payment to limited reimbursements for expenses, should be scrapped. A distinction must be maintained between income replacement payments and support for additional costs of disability.

We are concerned that future changes to UK level social security payments could have significant consequences for devolved payments, against the policy intentions of the Scottish Government and Parliament. As far as is possible, UK Government decisions to change their payments should not negatively impact Scottish equivalents.

Closer inter-governmental working arrangements on social security should be established, and better use made of the flexibility underpinning the devolution of social security payments. Greater divergence between Scottish and UK payments should be allowed where the respective government funds resulting changes in liability for their counterparts.

There must also be stronger enforcement employers’ duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers, including people with sensory impairments or loss. Further measures to support disabled people who can and want to work are required to help close the disability employment gap, without penalising those who cannot work or have not been granted reasonable adjustments.

Repair the broken social security system

  • End the cruel sanctions regime.
  • End the system of unjust caps and deductions.
  • Work across both governments to develop the potential of a Minimum Income Guarantee.

Social security is a human right and an essential financial support for millions of people across the UK. Despite this, the current system has become defined by its inadequacy and its punitive nature, with welfare reforms leading to real-terms reduction in the value of payments, significantly increased conditionality, and frequent application of sanctions.

The UK Government must end the cruel sanctions regime which has caused immeasurable financial, physical and mental harm to people. They must end the system of unjust caps and deductions, including the two child limit, bedroom tax and benefit cap, which have deepened poverty and inequality, particularly child poverty. They must significantly reduce the role of conditionality in the system, taking a human rights based approach towards social security as an entitlement.

There should also be closer intergovernmental working between the UK and Scottish Governments to develop the potential of a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG). This should include identifying any further permanent devolution of powers necessary for the Scottish Government to implement the policy if it so chooses, and what time, geographically or demographically limited changes are necessary to the UK social security system to enable targeted pilots of a MIG.

Deliver a fair, renewable deal on energy

  • Introduce a social energy tariff for disabled people, people living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers.
  • Invest in the transition to renewables and energy efficiency schemes.

UK households have been facing extreme increases in energy bills over the past two years. Even as prices have fallen from their peak, the average bill remains twice as high as it was before the crisis. These increases have had a particularly negative impact on disabled people, people living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers. All of these groups often have significantly higher energy consumption than the general population, and who must therefore be prioritised for support and investment.

A social energy tariff should be introduced specifically for disabled people, people living with long term conditions and unpaid carers. This should offer lower prices and greater protection from price increases for those with the least flexibility to modify their energy usage in response to price fluctuations.

There must also be increased investment in the transition to renewable energy as a long term measure to reduce reliance on unpredictably priced fossil fuels which are also damaging to the climate. This should include greater investment in energy efficiency schemes to help reduce energy usage, offering generous financial support packages for retrofitting to households including disabled people, people living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers.