A fair Scottish welfare system
New powers over welfare are being transferred to the Scottish Parliament over its next term of office.
This gives the opportunity to build a Scottish welfare system that provides a better link between social security benefits and the services provided by the Scottish Government and local councils.
To be effective a new system will need cross-party support, adopting the principles that it is:
- Underpinned by respect for the dignity of individuals;
- Accessible, fair and commands the full confidence of claimants and the organisations and services that support them;
- Suited to the needs of people in Scotland.
The use of the new powers will be subject to a spending review and we commit to increase Carers’ Benefit to bring it into line with the rate for jobseekers’ allowance.
We will also implement and adequately resource the new carers’ strategy, start a pilot of carers’ leave for Scottish Government staff and support the development and provision of special health checks for carers by GPs.
We will make sure the bedroom tax is fully removed from the Scottish system.
When the Scottish Parliament gains the power to create new benefits we will use that power to help people who are at risk of losing their job, or entitlement to other benefits, because of a mental health problem. We will support them financially and give them access to NHS mental health treatment to get them back into their workplace.
We will start a pilot project to give parents of new-born babies a Finnish-style baby box containing essential items to ensure a healthy baby, proven to cut child mortality rates internationally.
We will make sure any medical assessments take full account of the fluctuating nature of conditions as diverse as mental health or HIV.
We will replace the Work Programme and Work Choice with new employability programmes that work in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, colleges, charities and other local agencies.
We will allow housing benefit to be paid directly to landlords and will retain the entitlement to housing benefit for those aged 18-25.
We will establish an expert group to assess if the present system of funeral payments works to provide assurance and dignity to all, and recommend appropriate changes.