SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire MSP has  welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement (22nd February 2017) that social security as a human right will be enshrined in the foundation and functions of Scotland’s new social security agency.

The decision comes after an overwhelming majority of respondents to the social security consultation backed the principles of fairness, dignity and respect being built into the agency from day one.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament, Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman announced that the human right to social security will be on the face of the Bill which will be introduced to parliament in June, and that an early action from the consultation will see those principles reflected in a Charter.

Ruth Maguire MSP, who sits on Holyrood’s Social Security Committee, used the opportunity of the Ministerial Statement to press the Government on its plans to use Universal Credit flexibilities to provide individual or split payments as opposed to household payments. This has been advocated by many groups and individuals concerned about the negative impact that household payments could have on women stuck in abusive relationships.

In response to Ms Maguire’s question, the Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government is supportive of split payments in principle and is currently consulting in conjunction with the DWP as to how this could be implemented.

Commenting, Ruth said:

‘I strongly welcome this SNP Government’s clear and concrete commitment to a rights-based approach to social security. Including clear and accessible Charter within the Bill creates a binding contract between the system and the people who use it, and ensures that people are aware of the rights that they have.

I also welcome the Scottish Government’s confirmation of its intention to use our Parliament’s new powers over social security to provide individual payments instead of household payments. This is  hugely positive news for women, allowing for financial independence and not dependence, and particularly for women who are in controlling and abusive relationships.’