#ScotSocialSecurity and language

Emma Trottier is Engender’s policy manager, and leads our work on social security. Over the coming months she’ll be blogging about the key issues at the heart of the debate about Scotland’s new social security system. Here, she talks about the importance of language.

At the end of February, the Scottish Government released its analysis of the written responses to the consultation on social security, in which a number of themes emerged. As we work our way through the responses, we want to share some of the key themes, beginning with the importance of language.

Much attention was given to shifting the vernacular dealing with social security. Though the stigma experienced by those on social assistance is widely known, Engender wishes to challenge notions such as regarding social security as a ‘benefit’. Social security is not a ‘benefit’. It is a program to support those in our communities who are most in need of assistance, whether as a temporary response to an emergency or for the long term. Social security is premised on the belief that all people should live healthy and fulfilling lives, free of the myriad of social, cultural and economic barriers that stem from life lived in poverty. By definition, the use of the term ‘benefit’ frames social assistance as an advantage. As explained by one individual in his/her response to the consultation, those who depend on social assistance have little choice but to do so to ‘survive and not starve or become destitute’. Social assistance is not an advantage or a ‘benefit’, it is a program that aims to protect the dignity, safety and well-being of our fellow community members.

Though this topic is part of a broader discussion on understanding the realities of living in poverty, we at Engender feel that it is vital to take an active role in shifting the tone and language used around social security. Our work is wide-ranging, but it is rooted in equality for women. As women are twice as dependent on social security as men, it is essential that our work and our writing act as a catalyst to positively change social and political attitudes towards social security.

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Downloads

Engender Submission to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee on the Social Security (Scotland) BillEngender Submission to the Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill Engender welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Committee’s call for views.

Securing Women's Futures: Using Scotland's New Social Security Powers to Close the Gender Equality GapSecuring Women's Futures: Using Scotland's New Social Security Powers to Close the Gender Equality Gap This joint report from Engender, Close the Gap, Scottish Women's Aid, the Scottish Refugee Council and Carer Scotland summarises why and how women are affected by social security policy and sets out ways in which new powers can be engaged to increase women’s equality in Scotland.

Social Security Consultation Focus Groups - Report A report of eight focus groups run by Engender, Scottish Women's Aid, Carers Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council, to contribute to the Scottish Government consultation on social security.

Social Security Consultation Focus Groups - ReportSocial Security Consultation Focus Groups - Report A report of eight focus groups run by Engender, Scottish Women's Aid, Carers Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council, to contribute to the Scottish Government consultation on social security.

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