This week I spoke in the debate on “The Future of Social Security in Scotland”.
As part of the Scotland Act 2016, the following social security powers are to be devolved to Scotland: Attendance Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment, Industrial Injuries Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Cold Weather Payment, Funeral Payment, Sure Start Maternity Grant, Winter Fuel Payment, and Discretionary Housing Payments.
Whilst it will take time to develop some of these benefits through a new social security agency for Scotland; it is important in the meantime that no-one currently receiving a benefit ends up losing out. On top of this, it is also important that the SNP Government move as quickly as possible to bring these new powers in.
It appears that they don’t want to take the powers until 2020 and so the point I wanted to get across was that, where possible, we should take the powers as soon as we can. That way we can shape the new social security structure based on the principle of treating people with dignity and respect. This is what the many organisations and charities who submitted briefings are calling for.
I also highlighted Child Poverty Action Group and their call to use the new power which enables the Scottish Government to introduce any new benefits or top up any existing benefits. Child Poverty Action Group are calling on the Scottish Government to use this power and top up child benefit by £5 a week as they say this would result in child poverty in Scotland being reduced by 14% – meaning 30,000 fewer children in poverty than would otherwise be the case. On top of this it would also help thousands of families across the country avoid the foodbank.
I certainly think the Government and parliament should be examining this proposal given our commitment to tackle child poverty in Scotland. I hope they take on board the calls from across the sector, given the opportunity that these new powers present.