‘Dignity, Fairness and Respect’ – please not another empty phrase!

Shirley-Anne-Somerville1-768x481

This post has been updated and rewritten (29 August) as I got confused between the various consultations (sorry) and some of the previous comments are already water under the bridge. However our main concerns still stand and we will be raising them with the Scottish Government.

1. We are very alarmed by the report that the Scottish Government is considering using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act to allow covert surveillance of people suspected of cheating the system. Even the fact that this is being considered at all has seriously damaged people’s faith that the new system will value dignity and respect. When people apply for disability benefits they expect to have to provide evidence of eligibility in the first place, but they do not expect their need for benefits to give the government carte blanche to spy on their lives. We hope and anticipate that this idea will be removed from the table at the earliest opportunity, before people are given more cause for worry and distress, and before the Scottish benefit system becomes as feared as the UK one.

There is an ongoing consultation on the investigation of offences, which you can respond to here. The detailed proposals are here, and the bit about covert surveillance is in Annex A pages 8-9

2. We have been very concerned to discover that DLA and PIP are commonly treated as disposable income when calculating eligibility for DHP. Our blog on this issue from last Sunday has generated a huge amount of interest and support.

3. We are worried about the consultation process itself. The Scottish Government has provided a lot of opportunities for people to give their views. This has generated a lot of effort and paperwork, but we are not sure how much these views are taken notice of.  We have tried to raise issues about the need for more welfare spending via the Scottish Government’s official petition system, (Petition no PE01677), only to experience this being continually kicked into the long grass. The petition was briefly mentioned at the Scottish Social Security Committee meeting on 24th May, but as far as we know, nothing more has been discussed. (It may have been looked at at the discussion of the Scottish Welfare fund on 21 June, but this was done in private – which is another problem.) Our petition was originally designed to feed into last year’s budget. The process is so slow that it will soon be budget time again.

There are still hopes that the Scottish Social Security system will make a big difference to people’s lives – please Shirley-Anne Somerville, don’t let it be a disappointment!

(The picture shows Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Scottish Government’s new Cabinet Secretary for Social Security.)

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2 thoughts on “‘Dignity, Fairness and Respect’ – please not another empty phrase!

  1. I fear the worse and further delay past the next election , starting to think the SNP are using it as exercise to keep blaming the Tories and Westminster rather than get a crack on and helping Scot’s with disability’s, even worse could it be an exercise by the SNP in the hope that Whitehall drastically cut the number of Scottish claimants to reduce the Scottish welfare bill ! After all why even keep PIP and not change the rules when you send powers back, CPAG may have a point on that score.

    New benefit powers can help WASPI woman now even mothers and the third child now but the SNP lie, this despite F.O.I releases showing we can help the now using section 24 and up of the Scotland act 2016. The more we find out daily the more we worry about these powers and those that are implementing them.

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  2. Yes, the stark reality is that by the time the SSSA takes over PIP administration the overall number of PIP claimants and levels of payment will be significantly further reduced thus reducing the overall amount of monies transferred from DWP to SSSA. The rules will stay the same but just be administered “more nicely” in Scotland? This also knocks on to UC as loss of PIP may remove people from “legacy” benefits/premiums before they get moved to UC so they lose out again. The Scottish WASPI campaign is well-founded but the Scottish Government’s position is hypocritical. If, to suspend reality, the SG was given responsibility for state pensions next month, I do not believe they would resolve this given their unwillingness to maximise the effect of the powers they do have. However, whether any other political parties would behave any differently is a moot point. All we can do is keep the pressure on SG and SP to make the best of new powers and perhaps we will win a few skirmishes in the process? The next Scottish election is May 2021, a year later than it would have been if the SP (encouraged by Westminster) had not messed around with the 4 year parliamentary term (the only group of workers who get to extend their own job security!).
    Nil desperandum!

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