Commitment to expert scrutiny of social security system reiterated

Jeane Freeman

The Scottish Government has repeated its commitment to allow Scotland’s new social security system to be open to independent scrutiny.

Responding to the Scottish Parliament social security committee’s Stage 1 Report on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, social security minister Jeane Freeman said amendments will be brought forward during stage 2 on provisions for independent expert scrutiny of the new system.

Ms Freeman said: “We have always been very clear that our social security system must and will be open to scrutiny by independent experts and that ministers must have a statutory duty to consult those experts.

“I am pleased that the committee’s report recognises our vision of social security in Scotland and, in particular, the principle that social security is a human right and that people using the system should be treated with dignity and respect.

“The report also shows clear consensus in favour of the rights-based approach to social security in Scotland.

“We are building a new public service and it’s important that we get it right for the people of Scotland and we will continue to work with stakeholders, experts and those with lived experience of the benefits system to create a service that is fair, respectful and effective.”

The Scottish Government also welcomed the committee’s support for the Social Security Charter and repeated its commitment to ensure that this will clearly set out what people are entitled to expect from the new system.

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill also sets out a requirement for ministers to report to the Scottish Parliament on the commitments set out in this charter.

Ms Freeman added: “We agree with feedback from our stakeholders and Experience Panels that the Social Security Charter must be short, clear and straightforward and we will continue to engage with people with lived experience of the current social security system, not just to identify what should be included in the charter, but to co-design the language and look of it.”

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill stage 1 debate will take place in the Scottish Parliament chamber on December 19.

The full Scottish Government response is available here.