Social Security Bill published

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Thursday 20th July 2017

HIV Scotland has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s Social Security Bill. The legislation sets out how the government plans to use the newly devolved social security powers which a significant minority of people living with HIV currently access. Eleven benefits are to be devolved, including disability benefits. The Bill also provides powers for the Scottish Government to top-up benefits that will remain the responsibility of the UK Government.

There is a positive recognition that social security is an investment in the people of Scotland and “social security is itself a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights”. The Bill sets out the Government’s plans for a claimant charter which will state the ways in which dignity and respect will be at the heart of the new system for those accessing it. This charter will be shaped by people who use or may use the system and reviewed every five years to ensure it is working effectively.

There is no information in the Bill on the eligibility assessments for disability benefits and what advice and support will be available for claimants. Both the assessment process and access to advocacy were the top issues raised by people living with HIV who took part in HIV Scotland’s social security consultation in 2016. Furthermore, the Bill does not provide detail on how the new agency will interact with other service providers, including social care and health professionals

Going forward, the Bill will now be subject to scrutiny from the Scottish Parliament. MSPs on the Social Security Committee have issued a call for evidence to seek views on the proposals contained within the Bill. HIV Scotland will be making a submission and want to engage with people living with HIV who are currently accessing or may access disability benefits. We want to hear thoughts and ideas to improve what’s in the Bill, so the new system better supports people living with HIV.

Contact Liam Beattie, Policy and Political Officer