The Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has asked for views on the Scottish Government’s Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill. The Bill was introduced on 10 June and aims to put the interim Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) arrangements on a statutory footing.
The objectives of the interim SWF are to provide a safety net in an emergency when there is an immediate threat to health and safety, through the provision of a non-repayable grant (Crisis Grant); and enable people to live independently, or to continue to live independently, preventing the need for institutional care, through the provision of a non-repayable grant (Community Care Grant). This includes providing assistance to families facing exceptional pressures. For example where there has been a breakdown in family relationships, perhaps involving domestic violence, which is resulting in a move.
The Welfare Reform Committee is inviting individuals and organisations to contact them with their views on the bill, particularly focussing on whether the Bill fully achieves the Scottish Government’s aim of providing assistance for short term need and community care.
Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP said:
“Our Committee has an important role in scrutinising what the Scottish Government has proposed, and advising the wider Parliament on our considerations. It is important we hear from stakeholders on their views – both in writing and within the meetings we will hold between now and November.
“The interim SWF scheme has already been running for two years and we are keen to hear from people what learning has already taken place in this time, and importantly if we need to learn more. For example, we want to know what people think of the proposal that local authorities have the option to outsource the provision of the fund to a third party or to jointly administer the fund across local authority boundaries.”
Under the interim scheme second tier reviews are carried out by an impartial panel made up of local authority staff who are separate from the SWF team. However, the Bill proposes that the second tier review is conducted by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
Deputy Convener Jamie Hepburn MSP said:
“In scrutinising the Bill, the Committee will examine the costs associated with the proposals it contains. As such, we are asking people to give their thoughts on whether the costs attributed to the running of the fund and the set-up of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to administer secondary reviews are realistic and proportionate.”
Submitting written evidence to the Committee
Submissions should ideally be no more than 4 pages of A4. Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to the following email address:
Before submitting your evidence please read the Parliament’s policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees: Policy on Treatment of Written Evidence by Subject and Mandatory Committees
Responses can also be sent by post to:
Clerk to the Welfare Reform Committee
The closing date for receipt of submissions is Thursday 28 August.
For Committee information, contact:
Rebecca Macfie: 0131 348 5182
You can follow the Committee on twitter: @sp_welfareref