Social Security in Scotland. Evidence submitted by Scottish Refugee Council

Scotland’s new Social Security Bill and its impact on refugees in Scotland

We welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Social Security in Scotland.

In our response, we draw on more than thirty years’ of experience working with refugees and their communities in Scotland and focus on the impact the Social Security Bill will have on those communities.  Our recommendations build upon our response to the Scottish Government's November 2016 Social Security Consultation.

There are many elements of the Bill that signify a step forward for social security in Scotland, including the principles that put claimants at the heart of the delivery model and the introduction of a more generous carer’s allowance system.  The Bill however lacks detail and clarity in some areas, including how the new devolved benefits will work in practice.

We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to enshrine its principles in legislation and to include reference to social security as a human right however, there should be clearer reference to its responsibilities under the UN Convention on Economic and Social Rights and the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Reports published by the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees at Westminster confirm the UK refugee protection system is ‘two-tiered’.  People seeking protection in the asylum process receive a different, lesser and far more restrictive form of accommodation, financial support and entitlement to work than those who enter the UK through humanitarian or resettlement programmes.  This can aggravate the trauma and isolation of those seeking asylum. The Bill should address this and give serious consideration to the creation of a new devolved benefit – a one-off starter grant - to assist refugees in their transition from the difficult asylum process into their new lives and integration in Scotland. This would support the Scottish government’s excellent New Scots refugee integration framework and provide crucial practical assistance to refugees keen to accelerate their contribution to Scottish life.

For our full report and recommendations, click here.

For further information, please contact:

Jamie Stewart (Housing Development Officer)