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Scottish Government tables Social Security (Scotland) Bill

Engender welcomes the introduction of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill. The Bill, tabled on Wednesday, is the latest step in the development and implementation of the Scottish social security system. It outlines the vision for the new social security system in Scotland, and maps the delivery of the devolved programs.

The Bill proposes to legislate several principles, each of which would underpin the social security system. Amongst them are the principles that social security is a human right and an investment in the people of Scotland. In addition to setting out principles, the Bill also commits to developing a Charter, which would take the principles and translate them into stated aims. To shape the content of the Charter, the Scottish Government commits to consulting with people who receive social security.

Over the last year, Engender and other equalities organisations have worked to ensure that the social security system in Scotland is developed with consideration of the realities of women. Women are twice as dependent on social security as men due to low-paid work, unpaid caring responsibilities, violence against women and the multiple inequalities faced by disabled women, refugee women, lone mothers and others.

Given the gendered dimension of social security, it is imperative that the system in Scotland be built to respond to women’s lived experience. It is therefore disappointing that the Bill does not include equality as one of its principles.

As Engender’s Executive Director, Emma Ritch, has said:

“Women’s equality has been undermined by the drastic cuts to social security the UK Government has made, because women’s lived experience hasn’t even been considered as part of the ‘welfare reform’ processes. We want to see equality join human rights as one of the principles shaping our approach to social security in Scotland to ensure our systems are built to meet the needs of all of Scotland’s people.”

Engender and its partner organisations remain committed to continuing our work with the Scottish Government on ensuring that policies and practices respond to the experiences of women in Scotland.

Our Policy Manager, Emma Trottier, said:

"We’re focused on making women’s experiences of social security visible, and ensuring that their experiences are reflected in policy development. Over the coming months, we’ll work with equalities organisations and the Scottish Government on how the principles will work in practice and, more specifically, how they’ll contribute to realising women’s equality in Scotland."

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill is available to read here, and you can find out more about our work on women and social security in Scotland here.

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