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MPs seek views on benefits and allowances

7 December 2020

A survey asking people about their experience with the benefits system has been launched by the Scottish Affairs Committee.

The Committee hopes the responses to the survey will shed light on whether the benefits system is working for people in Scotland, to expose problems they are experiencing. The results will inform MPs about how to direct their ongoing probe into the impact of welfare policy in Scotland.

Anyone who has applied or has considered applying for any benefit scheme is encouraged to take part. There are nine questions in the survey, and it should take around 10 minutes to complete. These questions cover:

  • which benefits are being claimed;
  • how long it took to receive a payment;
  • how applicants found the process of applying for benefits, and whether communication about the benefit was easy to understand; and
  • whether the money received is enough for basic needs.

You can take the survey here or by using the QR code.

Chair's comments

Pete Wishart, Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee said:

“Hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland rely on the benefits system to support their income. For some, it ensures they do not face insufferable hardship.

Any pre-existing problems in the system have been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic; a pandemic that has changed lives and taken livelihoods. More than 474,000 are now on Universal Credit in Scotland, almost double the number before the crisis.

It’s a priority of the Scottish Affairs Committee to ensure that this system works properly for people in need. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that we get feedback from those with direct experience of the social security system to help us identify where the system is working, and where it is not.

So, whether you’ve applied, are claiming benefits or have been put off the whole process, we want to hear from you. The information you give us will help us understand the difficulties faced by people seeking financial assistance. With your help we can recommend practical steps that the Government could take to make the social security system more effective.”

Editor’s Notes

The QR code to access the survey is also attached as a file to this email. If placing in print, the recommended size is 2cm x 2cm. You can also access the survey here.

Scottish Choices, enshrined in the Scotland Act 2016, allows the Scottish Government to introduce some flexibility with regard to Universal Credit (UC) payments. Thus far, two such measures have been implemented.

  • Fortnightly Payments: which allow for Universal Credit payments twice a month rather than monthly
  • Direct Payments: where claimants can have their rent deducted from their UC payments and paid directly to their landlord.

It is the intention of the Scottish Government to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to implement two further flexibilities in the future, these include:

  • Split payments: where Universal Credit payments are split between a couple; and
  • Mitigating the under-occupancy charge: Where claimants are protected from the impact of the bedroom tax.

Further information

Image: PA