People with lived experience sought to help shape Scotland’s social security system
Volunteers are being asked to shape Scotland’s new, fairer social security system.
Applications are open to people from any background with experience of the current benefits system to join the Scottish Government’s Social Security Experience Panels.
Ethnic minorities, those living in rural communities and people under 25 are being particularly encouraged to apply to make panels as representative as possible.
The 2,400 panel members who have signed up so far are helping shape every detail of Social Security Scotland - from the opening hours to the design of benefit application forms.
Members are regularly asked for their views in a number of ways, including workshops, interviews and surveys that can be carried out face-to-face, on the phone and online.
Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We want social security in Scotland to be based on dignity, fairness and respect, that’s why the views from the people who actually use the service are so important.
“Panel members have told us they find the experience rewarding, offering a real chance to make a difference to thousands of people’s lives.
“Panels should be a true representation of our society, so I’d like to encourage those from all backgrounds to join us and help make the system one we can all be proud of.”
Rob, a volunteer experience panel member, said: “Sadly there isn’t a week which goes by without a story in a national newspaper highlighting the systemic problem with the current social security system administered by the DWP.
“Joining the Experience Panel has given me a renewed sense of purpose and has allowed me to meet and work alongside a range of other people with first-hand experience of the current system.
“The panels have brought us together with a common purpose to make the most of this unique opportunity to help design a new Social Security system fit for a 21st century Scotland.”
The Scottish Government Social Security Experience Panels have been running for two years and will run for at least two more.
A number of research reports have already been published on work with panel members so far.
People can apply online or by calling 0800 029 4974.
Applications can also be completed on paper forms, which can be requested on the number above or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.