Scotland politics

Holyrood committee to quiz UK work and pensions secretary

Damian Green Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Damian Green will appear before MSPs on the social security committee in November

MSPs are to question the UK work and pensions secretary about the Tory government's approach to welfare.

Damian Green MP will appear before Holyrood's social security committee on Thursday 3 November.

The session will be the first time a UK secretary of state for work and pensions has appeared before a Scottish Parliament committee.

Scotland is setting up its own social security framework, having taken on extra welfare powers from Westminster.

Committee convener Sandra White said the previous welfare reform committee had tried and failed 11 times to get a UK government minister to appear before them.

She said: "The timing of this session is especially important as the UK government hands over certain welfare powers over to the Scottish government.

"This committee will play a key role in making sure that people in Scotland are not negatively impacted upon through this transition."

The Scottish government is holding a consultation on how devolved benefits should be delivered, with a new Scottish social security agency to be set up.

A Social Security Bill is to be introduced at parliament, informed by the evidence gathered in the consultation.

'Deeply flawed system'

Social Security and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance pledged a particular focus on the personal independence payment (PIP) system.

Ms Constance said it was "absolutely staggering" that 65% of disabled people who appeal against PIP awards were successful.

She said: "Not only does that highlight a deeply flawed system, but it shows very clearly the number of people subjected to a highly stressful, often prolonged, process to get the support they need and are entitled to.

"When we have powers over disability benefits, we will put dignity and respect at the heart of everything that we do. We will reform the assessment procedures to ensure they work for service users and are committed to working with disabled people through the consultation and beyond, to get this right."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said the PIP system was a "better benefit" than the disability living allowance which is replaced, adding that an independent review was under way to "ensure people get the support they need".

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