Councils agree next steps to increasing benefit uptake
Social security minister Jeane Freeman met local councils yesterday to discuss the practical steps needed to encourage more people to claim the financial support they are entitled to.
It is estimated that, in 2014/15, for tax credits and the main income-related benefits, there could be over 500,000 cases of individuals or families in Scotland not claiming benefits they were entitled to.
The round-table in Edinburgh was also attended by Alex Rowley MSP and Councillor Kelly Parry, community wellbeing spokesperson for local authority umbrella group COSLA.
Ms Freeman said: “Social Security is a human right. That is the foundation for the social security system we are building for Scotland and making sure that everyone gets the financial support they are entitled to is one of the first steps towards putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security in Scotland.
“In Scotland today there are still many people on low incomes who are not claiming the benefits that are theirs by right. That might be because they don’t know what they are entitled to, or it could be the system is too complex. Whatever the reasons, we need to understand them and work out how they can be overcome.
“That will take both Scottish and local government working together. Local authorities have important experience in understanding what works at a local level. So it makes complete sense to work together on a coordinated approach that nationally and locally, actively encourages benefits take up. I am grateful to Alex Rowley MSP for his work and his support in, highlighting the critical issue of making sure people receive the support to which they are entitled.”
Councillor Kelly Parry added: “Ensuring everyone in Scotland claims the support they are entitled to is something councils and our local partners have been involved in for many years.
“Councils expertise and local knowledge has played a huge part in efforts to maximise incomes for Communities across the country. Collaborative working, and sustained joint effort, will make a real difference to people all across Scotland.”
Through the terms of the Scotland Act 2016, 11 additional benefits are in the process of being devolved to Scotland.