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New social security system will ensure dignity and respect, vows minister

Shirley-Anne Somerville has unveiled a new charter which will underpin the Scottish welfare system.

People using Scotland’s new social security services will be treated with dignity and respect, the Government has pledged.

Unveiling the Government’s charter for the social security policy which was approved by Parliament last year, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said it creates a supportive system for everyone who needs it.

The charter sets out the detail of what can be expected from the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland for anyone accessing the new system.

Thanking those who helped develop the charter, which included people with experience of the welfare system, Ms Somerville said: “When people use a public service they should have no concerns about how they will be treated.

“Whatever the contact is about and whoever they speak to, they should have full confidence that they will be treated with dignity and respect.

Commitments include treating people with kindness and empathy, recruiting staff who believe in these values, delivering services in local communities, and developing policy in a way that advances the human right to social security. Shirley-Anne Somerville

“However every day we read new reports of the brutal and degrading impact of a UK social security system that has been criticised by the UN and by House of Commons committees.

“This charter explains how Scotland will do things differently, creating a positive and supportive system that is there for all of us should we need it.

“Notable commitments include treating people with kindness and empathy, recruiting staff who believe in these values, delivering services in local communities, and developing policy in a way that advances the human right to social security.

“These commitments were developed by those who know the system best – people with lived experience of social security and the organisations that represent them. There are few, if any, parallel examples of a Government working so closely with the people it serves to shape a public service.

“The charter therefore goes to the heart of our commitment to work with the people of Scotland to co-design a system based on fairness, dignity and respect.”

Rob Gowans, of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the launch of the charter, as it is important that people who need support from the social security system are clear about their rights, what to expect and what they can do if that standard is not met.

“We know from people coming to their local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice that this is not always the case currently, so the charter is a positive step towards creating a social security system which treats people with dignity and respect at all times.”

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