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Anti-poverty campaigners welcome introduction of social security bill for Scotland

Posted: 21/06/2017

Press release
For immediate release – 21 June 2017
Anti-poverty campaigners welcome introduction of social security bill for Scotland
Anti-poverty campaigners have welcomed the introduction of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill today which sets out the foundations for the new social security agency in Scotland, and the delivery of devolved benefits.
The Bill highlights the principles of dignity and respect and the importance of recognising that social security is an investment in us all.  
The Poverty Alliance has worked to ensure that the voices of people with direct experience of poverty are reflected in this new Social Security Bill, and our activists have been involved in numerous discussions with the Scottish Government about the design of the new agency. 
As well as setting out the areas where the Scottish Government will be able to provide benefits, the Bill also includes proposals for a social security Charter that will allow people to understand what their rights are under the new system. We particularly welcome the commitment in the Bill to involve people who have experience of the social security system in the creation of the Charter.  People with direct experience of poverty have expertise in how the new system should operate and it is vital that the Scottish Government continues to draw on this expertise.   
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said:
“This is the next, and very important, step in the development of Scotland’s social security system. The Poverty Alliance has supported the calls for the Scottish Parliament to have more powers over social security, and we are pleased that the legislation to implement these powers has been introduced. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and opposition parties as it progresses through parliament.
“This Bill is the starting block in thinking about what we believe social security in Scotland should look like, and what we can do with our new powers to improve the lives of people living on low incomes.
“There are significant and welcome indicators about how the Scottish Government intends our new system to develop and operate: human rights will underpin the system and securing the dignity of those who use it will be fundamental.
“For decades, organisations like the Poverty Alliance have campaigned against changes to our welfare system that have undermined human rights and that have often left people stripped of their dignity. We are pleased then to be finally welcoming social security legislation that is based on a very different set of principles and goals. 
“As this legislation is turned into real benefits, we will be working with our members and activists to ensure that the principles are made real and that we have a Scottish social security system that genuinely delivers dignity for all. 
“Adequate incomes are, for us, the cornerstone of a dignified system. That is why the  Poverty Alliance believes the Scottish Government should seek to increase incomes, starting with increasing child benefit by £5 per week and a new poll shows that almost two-thirds of the Scottish public support this.
“Throughout the process it is important that people with experience of poverty are involved in a meaningful way, and we will continue to work to our activists to seek to achieve a social security system that works best for them.”

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