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Scotland’s approach to be shaped by people using current system.
At least 2,000 people with direct personal experience of the current social security system are being recruited to help shape Scotland’s new system.
Experience Panels made up of people from across the country who use the current system will give their views on the design of Scotland’s new system and how to build and refine a better model.
Registration is now live and people can do so online and by post, while a phone-line will also be available for those who do not have online access or need additional support.
The panels will work closely with the Expert Advisory Group on Disability and Carers’ Benefits, chaired by Dr Jim McCormick, associate director for Scotland with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman launched the recruitment drive while meeting members of Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA) at Calton Heritage & Learning Centre. She said:
“At the start of this process I said I wanted Scotland’s social security system to treat people with fairness, dignity and respect, and key to that is having people who use the current one right alongside us as we design and build our system.
“What we want is a system that works for people rather than one that tests their ability to fill out long and complicated forms. Our Experience Panels will help us understand the changes that need to be made to design Scotland’s social security system so it works for people and Scotland.
“The system we are building will make a real and positive difference to the 1.4 million people who rely on this critical financial support and I am asking anyone who wants to get involved in the process to register their interest in joining one of our Experience Panels.”
One of the people Ms Freeman met was Chris Baird, a disabled activist, campaigner for Human Rights for disabled people and member of Glasgow Disability Alliance’s Drivers for Change Network. He said:
“The launch of the Experience Panels is long awaited as the number one problem disabled people have faced in the old system is hostile attitudes. By setting up these Panels, staff in the new system will hopefully develop empathy about the real life experiences of disabled people using the system.
“When you’re treated like a scrounger and benefit cheat, it knocks your confidence and wears away your self-esteem. These Panels are a chance to take the next step in building a system which puts right some of the wrongs and treat people better. By contributing our voices, experiences and solutions, we can work together to create this system. ”
Tressa Burke, Chief Executive of GDA said:
“GDA has been working alongside the Scottish Government over the last year to make sure that disabled people’s voices are heard in developing the new social security system. We want to embed ways of working which are fair and advance equality, dignity and respect.
“GDA and our members have witnessed horrendous decision-making leading to worsening health and increased inequalities for disabled people. We can learn from these experiences and no-one better understands these than disabled people themselves who have been at the mercy of hardened attitudes and brutal treatments.
“Above all, disabled people can offer solutions and we firmly believe that by working together we can do things differently and create a better future for Scotland’s people.”
People can register online: www.gov.scot/socialsecurity
Freephone: 0800 029 4974 (includes language line translation)
Text: Prefix 18001
SMS: 07467 447375
British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact us via http://contactscotland-bsl.org
Greg Maxwell : 0131 244 2615 / 07837 061 193