A Social Security For Us All: Cabinet minister to address Common Weal event

Event on the future of Scottish social security expected to generate “lively discussion”

COMMON WEAL GLASGOW is hosting an evening with Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman and Head of Research at Common Weal Dr Craig Dalzell, who will present their visions for the future of social security in Scotland.

The event, titled A Social Security For Us All in Scotland, will take place on Monday 23 October at Glasgow University, and will be chaired by Sarah Glynn of Scottish Unemployed Workers' Network.

In June this year, the Scottish Government launched its draft Social Security (Scotland) Bill which would provide an overarching framework for social security policy, encompassing the eleven benefits devolved under the Scotland Act 2016.

Jeane Freeman MSP told CommonSpace what attendees of the event can expect: “I’ll be speaking about our new social security powers, I’ll be explaining what’s involved in the legislation, and I’ll be talking about the importance of adopting a rights-based social security system - albeit with eleven benefits.”

READ MORE: Scottish Social Security Bill launched by Scottish Government 

The proposed bill has been put forward as representing a substantive change to the processes and ideological basis of the UK welfare system and Tory austerity.  

Asked how the bill will create this difference, Freeman said: “Calling it social security is a start, and calling it a rights-based system. The changes we will make in how people are treated, the application process, the review and appeals system, and quite a lot more will make this distinct from the UK system.”

Dr Craig Dalzell of Common Weal, who will also discuss his vision for social security, has led on the think tank and campaign organisation’s substantial research and policy development on the issue -  Dalzell authored Common Weal’s report on ‘Social Security for All of Us - an Independent Scotland as a Modern Welfare State’.

Ahead of Monday’s event, he said: "The UK's welfare system could be described as meagre at best and outright punitive at worst. Far too many people have been left destitute as a result of onerous regimes of applications, assessments and sanctions just to claim the most minimal of payouts.

READ MORE: Common Weal outlines a new social security system for an independent Scotland

“Whilst Scotland is in the process of receiving a set of new powers over welfare, it is only through independence that we can truly build a social security system worthy of the name. I shall be outlining the principles by which such a system should operate and presenting some innovative policy ideas for discussion, including the idea of a Universal Basic Income."

Sarah Glynn, author of the book Righting Welfare Wrongs, which highlights the failings of the UK’s welfare system, said she was “very glad” to be chairing the event.

Glynn said: “Social security is not only vital (literally) for those who receive it, but is also a measure of the type of society we live in. Making the best use of the powers we have is important in itself, and makes the case for demanding further powers that only come with independence.

“The Scottish Government has acknowledged the need for a change of focus on social security, but many of us have concerns over aspects of their draft bill, and of course there are many areas it doesn't touch. I'm looking forward to some lively discussion.”

The audience will have the chance to ask questions of the speakers, and Righting Welfare Wrongs will be on sale at the event.

Tickets are still available to purchase here.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Government

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Comments

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 17:16

"A Social Security For Us All:"?

TORY LIES AND HYPOCRISY AND SNP HAND-WRINGING!

There's no social security for me!

HELP! I have no social security!

All I have been getting since January this year is housing benefit since the DWP / Jobcentre stopped my Employment and Support Allowance.

I wrote to Jeane Freeman as Social Security minster - copied below - and I received a reply from a civil servant - BUT NO SOCIAL SECURITY!

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 16:31

An open letter to - the Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman MSP
22 June 2017

Dear Ms Freeman MSP,

HELP!

I am socially insecure because the UK Tory government-run Department of Work and Pensions have stopped paying me Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

So I have had no income since January 2017 except my housing benefit which doesn't even cover all my rent.

To make ends meet I have had to run down my savings, spending on food, energy bills, rent deficits and other essentials to an alarming extent.

So I am facing the prospect of financial hardship.

I have appealed to HM Courts and Tribunals Service against the decision of the Department of Work and Pensions to ask for the restoration of my Employment and Support Allowance payments.

I do have sick notes to present in support of my appeal, although I had to change my GP to get them.
http://peter-dow.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/refused-sick-note-by-dr-adrian-c...

Meanwhile I would very much appreciate it if you and your multi-billion pound Scottish social security agency could see your way clear to paying me benefits of about £500 per month?

If I get my ESA restored and back-dated by the DWP I will be able to repay your agency any money they have paid to me.

Thanks so much,

Yours sincerely

(Alastair) Peter Dow
Bachelor of Science with Honours
Tel. Aberdeen 01224 583906

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 17:15

Social Security Directorate

Social Security Policy Division

T: 0131-244 9710
E: stuart.brown2@gov.scot

Mr Peter Dow
Our ref: 2017/0022052
17 July 2017

Dear Mr Dow

Thank you for your email of 22 June to Jeane Freeman, Minister for Social Security regarding your claim to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Due to the high volume of correspondence she receives, the Minister is not able to answer all correspondence personally. As a member of a team dealing with social security matters in Scotland I have been asked to respond.

I am sorry to hear about your health issues and the difficulties you are currently experiencing. I appreciate that claiming benefits can be a difficult and distressing process.

The Scottish Government remains concerned about many aspects of the UK Government’s welfare reforms. We continue to press Ministers within the UK Parliament to make improvements and to ensure safe guards are in place for those who need them. We are doing all we can within the current constitutional settlement, to mitigate the worst impacts of the reforms and protect those who are in most need of support in our society.

Social security benefits including ESA are the responsibility of the UK Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administer these on their behalf. Unfortunately Scottish Ministers have no powers over these and we cannot intervene. If you wish to raise your concerns about the social security system with the UK Government, you can contact UK Ministers at:

ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk.

Unfortunately, ESA is not one of the benefits being devolved to Scotland under the Scotland Act 2016. The health assessments that we will introduce when we receive powers over disability benefits will be separate from those for ESA.

Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ www.scotland.gov.uk

You may wish to raise your issues with your local MP.
They can raise your issues on you behalf in the UK Parliament.
You can find your local MP via:
http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

If you haven’t already done so I would urge you to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau who can provide free, independent and confidential advice on a range of issues, including welfare benefits. They can also check that you are getting all the benefits that you are entitled to.

You can find details of your local Bureau by visiting the Citizens Advice Scotland
website at: www.cas.org.uk.

Alternatively you can contact Citizens Advice Direct on 0808 800 9060 between 9am and 8pm Monday to Friday and between 10am and 2pm on Saturday.

You are obviously aware that, as a result of the Smith Commission process, disability benefits will eventually be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. However, the powers that will be devolved only cover 15% of benefit spend in Scotland and while we do intend to improve every aspect of the process we are responsible for, we cannot address all the unfairness that exists across the whole UK benefit system.

You may wish to contact your local Council regarding any assistance they canp rovide.
One of the services they administer on behalf of the Scottish Government is the Scottish Welfare Fund, which provides two types of grants; crisis grants which can provide for basic expenses in the event of a one-off crisis, and community care grants which may be issued to people who need support to live independently in the community, and will mostly provide items such as furniture or appliances.

You do not have to be in receipt of benefits to qualify for a grant, it depends wholly on your circumstances.

More information on the Scottish Welfare Fund can be found on the Scottish Government website, including a list of all local authorities and their contact details, which you can find via:

In relation to the new social security agency,given the scale and complexity of this work, it will take a number of years before the agency is fully functional, though the first devolved benefit will be delivered in summer 2018. While the exact timescales are still being developed, there will be a phased transition of the administration of powers.
I am sorry that I cannot be of more assistance but hope that the above information is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Brown
Social Security Directorate

Victoria Quay,
Edinburgh
EH6 6QQ
www.scotland.gov.uk

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