We’ve established a social security system that works for the people of Scotland, not against them

It is for any government to listen and understand your personal situation and help you appropriately.

For some, as has been highlighted by the pandemic, you may need the help of the social security system unexpectedly. For others you may need it due to low earnings, unstable work or caring responsibilities.

Or you may need it to level the playing field of the additional costs you have because of a disability or health condition. Your government should be there to support you and to make sure you do not lose out on financial entitlements.

Since its establishment in 2018, the agency that delivers Scotland’s social security benefits – Social Security Scotland – has sought to treat everyone with respect under principles enshrined in law, including that social security is an investment in people and that it will respect the dignity of individuals.

The Scottish Government has been given a ringing endorsement by the people of Scotland, as a survey of people who have used the Social Security Scotland services has found four in five people have been treated with fairness, dignity and respect.

Of the 3,000 people who took part in the survey, 90 per cent said they had been treated with fairness.

Satisfaction rates with the Tory government’s welfare system have been falling for the past three years. Satisfaction with the process of claiming Universal Credit is the lowest it has been since the new benefit was launched.

In Scotland we have established a social security system that works with the people of Scotland, not against them.

The Scottish Government has been taking the lead in the UK to provide social security that prioritises people who need it most – instead of prioritising austerity and cuts to services, driving thousands of families into further poverty.

With one hand tied behind its back, the SNP has taken giant steps in tackling child poverty in Scotland. We have already introduced the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods.

This month we launched the Scottish Child Payment, which has been described as ‘game-changing’ in the fight against child poverty.

As the Scottish Government takes these decisive steps, the Tories at Westminster are threatening to cut the £20 uplift to Universal Credit that has been a lifeline to so many during the pandemic.

Removing it will plunge 20,000 children in Scotland into poverty. At a time of need, the Tories are posted missing once again, whilst the SNP Government steps up and support our most vulnerable.

The Scottish Government has continually urged the Tories to extend the uplift to Universal Credit as we do not want to see thousands of families plunged into poverty.

It is a poor reflection of this Westminster government that the threat to the uplift has not been taken away at the projections and warnings from charities that it will put people into further destitution.

Despite these numerous warnings from the Scottish Government, they will not take the threat off the table.

Yet again, it is a demonstration of the tale of two governments in Scotland – with the one in Edinburgh treating its citizens with dignity and compassion, whilst the one in London looks to impose more cuts and work against the very people it is supposed to serve.

We await the budget statement next week and Rishi Sunak’s plans to revitalise the country from a brutal, but necessary winter lockdown. I hope he will continue the uplift of £20 to Universal Credit for as long as people need it, the payment has been absolutely vital.

In May, Scotland will have a choice of whose hands it puts it future in.

Does it put its future in the hands of Boris Johnson’s Tories who continue to implement callous policies, with declining satisfaction in its social security system that threatens to plunge thousands into poverty?

Or does Scotland want to put its future into the hands of an SNP Government that’s building a social security system that the people of Scotland are happy with – while treating them with dignity, fairness and respect and can continue to do that in an independent Scotland with full powers over social security.

This article originally appeared in The Scotsman.