Blog: Social security changes could help free people to prosper


David Eyre,
Communications Officer,
The Poverty Alliance

We built our social security system so that everyone — especially those who most need it — can have stability and freedom to prosper and thrive in an uncertain world. 

But for too long, successive governments have weakened our social security system, so that more and more people are being allowed to fall into unjust poverty. 

Scotland has been travelling a different path, building a stronger and more just social security system with benefits such as the Scottish Child Payment, and action to fill the huge income gaps left by actions like the UK government’s unjust and ineffective benefit cap. 

In our response to the consultation on the new Social Security Amendment Bill in the Scottish Parliament, we say if changes are made around the legal basis of the Scottish Child Payment, and with the launch of a new benefit for carers, we can make even more progress towards the goal of ending poverty in wealthy Scotland. 

As things stand, the Scottish Child Payment is set up as a 'top up' benefit, there to provide extra support for parents who are receiving certain UK benefits like Universal Credit. The new Bill proposes changing this, so that the Child Payment would become a stand-alone benefit, no longer formally linked to the UK system.  

We believe this could strengthen the positive impact that the Child Payment is already having for families across Scotland. It could simplify the overall social security system, making it easier for people to apply for the support they're entitled to.  

It would mean that Scotland could expand the number of households who get support to include households where people have no recourse to public funds from the UK system, and to others who don't qualify for UK support, like students. 

And it would create a way that Scotland could make progress in delivering a Minimum Income Guarantee – the simple but transformative idea that no-one in Scotland will be allowed to fall below the income they need. In particular, we think it could help do more to support parents as they move into and out of work. 

The Bill also sets out the process for launching a new Care Leaver's Payment. We strongly welcome this. It will help one of the groups of people in our society who most at risk of falling into poverty, homelessness, and destitution. It will provide them with greater stability and certainty to build a better future for themselves.  

In our comments on the bill, we say it's vital that Social Security Scotland and others consult with people with experience of the care system on the design, implementation and evaluation of the Care Leaver’s Payment. That will help ensure that the process works in the best interests of those applying for it. 

Social security is something that we should celebrate. It can give people increased confidence and certainty in their lives and allow them to build for a better future for themselves, their households, and their communities. We hope this Bill will lead to a strengthened Scottish social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.  

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