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New Scottish powers to control benefits in Scotland

New Scottish powers to control benefits in Scotland

The Scottish Government will soon become responsible for some of the benefits currently paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). We may see new names, new rules and new ways of paying benefits. There is no decision yet on when exactly each benefit will be transferred to Scotland.

Benefits being transferred include:

  • Disability and carers’ benefits (attendance allowance (AA), disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP), carer’s allowance (CA), industrial injuries disablement benefit and severe disablement allowance);
  • Social fund (Sure Start maternity grant, funeral payment, cold weather payment and winter fuel payment);
  • Discretionary housing payments
  • Healthy Start vouchers

Universal credit (UC) stays with the UK but Scotland will have the power to:

  • change the frequency of payments – e.g., fortnightly rather than monthly;
  • split payments between couples;
  • pay housing costs directly to landlords;
  • vary the housing cost elements of UC, including the under-occupancy charge and local housing allowance rates, eligible rent, and deductions for non-dependents”.

Means-tested benefits, tax credits and all other benefits remain reserved to the UK; although Scotland may be able to top them up and even create new benefits that relate to other devolved policy areas such as health and social care.

The Social Security Bill is due to be introduced before the Scottish Parliament in June 2017.

Read more about the background to Scotland’s new social security system.

Have Your Say. Join the Experience Panels and help shape the new Scottish social security system. Register online by 12 May 2017.

Scotland Act 2016 Universal Credit.pdf

Call our freephone lone parent helpline on 0808 801 0323 if you need advice.

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UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is one of the core international human rights treaties – a universally agreed set of minimum child rights standards which is the most widely ratified of all the international conventions, and with which States must comply.

The UNCRC sets out a holistic framework for the rights of all children. The different articles are interdependent – the mutually-reinforcing nature of children’s rights means that civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights all have equal status and are indivisible.

Governments are expected to do all they can to implement the UNCRC – to make sure all law, policy and decisions which impact on children from birth to 18 comply with their human rights.

The general measures of the Convention include measures which give legal effect to the UNCRC, as well as ‘non-legal measures’, or other processes that can be used to progress implementation of the Convention.

The UNCRC introduces the concept of a child’s ‘evolving capacities’ (Article 5), which states that direction and guidance, provided by parents or others with responsibility for the child, must take into account the capacities of the child to exercise rights on their own behalf.

It includes four general principles that are not only rights in themselves but underpin every other right in the Convention:

  • For rights to be applied without discrimination (Article 2)
  • For the best interests of the child to be a primary consideration (Article 3)
  • The right to life, survival and development (Article 6)
  • The right to express a view and have that view taken into account (Article 12).

The UNCRC also provides children with a series of individual rights, such as the:

  • Right to a name and nationality
  • Right to health
  • Right to play and recreation
  • Right to an adequate standard of living.

There are also additional rights for specific groups of children, such as:

  • Disabled children
  • Children who have been exploited or mistreated
  • Refugee and migrant children
  • Children in custody
  • Children in care.

Children’s rights are inextricably linked with the rights of parents and carers, whose important role in children’s lives is recognised throughout.

Having played a key role in negotiating its 54 Articles, the UK Government ratified the UNCRC in 1991. The 18-member UN Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the implementation of the Convention, and provides guidance to governments in the interpretation of the Articles of the Convention through the publication of General Comments.

In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has produced a UNCRC implementation handbook which identifies specific implementation issues connected to each Article of the Convention.

To date, the UK Government has submitted five periodic reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, with the fifth periodic report due to be examined by the Committee in 2016. The most recent set of Concluding Observations from the Committee dates from 2008, with 124 recommendations for change and/or improvement.

In addition to the Articles of the Convention, there are three Optional Protocols to the UNCRC:

The UK Government has ratified the first two. A set of Concluding Observations to each has been published. The third Optional Protocol is still under consideration by the UK Government.

Source: Scottish Government – Children’s Rights in Scotland: A Quick Reference Guide

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Help shape the new Scottish social security system

Help shape the new Scottish social security system

Have Your Say. Join Experience Panels and help the Scottish Government shape the new Scottish social security system.

The Scottish Government will become responsible for some of the benefits currently paid out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It wants to work with people who have recent experience of these benefits so that the Scottish Government can design a new social security system with – and for – the people of Scotland.

View the ‘Have your say’ invitation or take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about the Experience Panels, and what taking part will involve.

Complete the registration form online or print out the registration form and return it by post.

Return your form to:

Freepost SOCIAL SECURITY EXPERIENCE PANELS. (No stamp required)

If you need additional support to register, you can call on Freephone 0800 029 4974 and the operators will help you to complete it over the phone.

The Freephone line is open between the following times:

Monday – Friday: 0830 – 1800 and Saturday: 0900 – 1700

Phone line translation is available if required. British Sign Language (BSL) users can make contact via www.contactscotland-bsl.org. Text phone users can call using the 18001 prefix or SMS users on 07467 447375.

To join the Experience Panels, you will need to fill out the registration form with your details so that you can be contacted about taking part in future Experience Panels research.

The information that you provide will be used for research purposes, will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared outwith the Scottish Government. More information is provided on the ‘Have your say’ invitation.

Registration closes on the 12 May 2017.

View the ‘Have your say’ invitation or take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about the Experience Panels, and what taking part will involve.

Source: Scottish Government

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Up to 32,000 children in Scotland impacted by bereavement benefits cuts

Up to 32,000 children in Scotland impacted by bereavement benefits cuts

Up to 32,000 children in Scotland will bear the brunt of Westminster cuts to bereavement benefits.

MPs are set to debate changes to the Widowed Parent’s Allowance this Thursday , 2nd March,  which will make bereaved single parent families, left struggling financially, face further hardship under Westminster Government plans to slash the Widowed Parent’s Allowance. Changes to the payments, currently made until dependent children leave full-time education, mean from April 6, parents could receive just 18 months’ support.

Over the next 10 years up to 32,000 children in Scotland, whom its predicted will lose a parent due to bereavement, will bear the brunt of Westminster cuts to bereavement benefits. Cuts which mean the average working  single parent family will be £12,000 worse off than under the current scheme and over £30,000 for families with the youngest children. (Source: Childhood Bereavement Network )

OPFS has written to all Scottish MP’s (see letter here) and  is calling on  the Government to pause the introduction of the new Bereavement Support Payment scheme, bring forward the review to which it has committed, and work across parties in order to come up with a solution that mixes the best of the old and the new system, supports those with children for longer, and is fair to those children whose parents weren’t married. Email your MP about the cuts.

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Campaigners welcome Scottish Child Poverty Bill

Campaigners welcome Scottish Child Poverty Bill

Members of the End Child Poverty (ECP) coalition in Scotland have welcomed the introduction of a new Bill aimed at eradicating the scandal of child poverty in Scotland.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, which will now be considered by MSPs, establishes ambitious new targets for the reduction and eradication of child poverty and places a duty on the Scottish Government to produce and report on delivery plans highlighting how those targets will be met. For the first time local authorities and health boards will also have a legal duty to report on the action they are taking to reduce child poverty.

Coalition members includeOPFS,  Barnardo’s Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Children 1st, the Poverty Alliance  and Children in Scotland.

View press release

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Community Choices in Castlemilk

Community Choices in Castlemilk

OPFS and Ardenglen Housing Association in Glasgow have been awarded funding through the Scottish Government Community Choices Fund to work with parents and children to innovate solutions to the Cost of the School Day, using a participatory budgeting model.

We have been working with parents from two schools in Castlemilk, Miller Primary and John Paul II, looking at ways to reduce the hidden costs of going to school based on the findings of the CPAG-Scot-Cost-Of-School-Day-Report

Parents are aware that poverty can impact on children’s experience of school and are focusing on costs around school uniforms, packed lunches, school trips, dress down days and after school activities. The parents from the two schools will decide on how a pot of £10,000 per school should be spent, and all ideas will be voted on at the Decision Day event on the 18th March.

For more information on this project please contact Marie Spalding on 01414870444 or marie.spalding@opfs.org.uk 

Participatory Budgeting 9th Feb Poster

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Family Support Falkirk

Family Support Falkirk

Following a conversation with single parents and professionals around some of the issues families face when living in a rural community, it became evident access to shops, activities and resources were the main issues.

The STV Children’s Appeal has awarded the Centre £46,471 to help us address some of these issues.

We intend to support families’ especially single parent families with their transport issues, access to low cost provisions from supermarkets, access to clothing required for the added cost of the school day, family outings and access to resources which can aid physical and mental wellbeing, development and family relationships.

We have set up a space where families, especially single parent families can join us for a community meal once per week, volunteer for gardening where we will grow fresh vegetables and distribute them to individuals accessing the Hub.

Parents have access to a small bank of emergency items which could help families struggling to make their money last until their next payment and tackle the growing cost of the school day by having access to clothes which could be worn during dress up/down days at school.

We are training a centre based Heat Energy Advice and Income Maximization Officer, who will support families to maximize their disposable income, and we will be able to source further funding to allow us to aid the purchase of items which would reduce energy costs, such as heavy curtains, rugs and bedding.

contact information:

Telephone 01324 711271 or email 

68/70 Forgie Crescent
Maddiston
Falkirk
FK2 0LZ

STV Appeal logo

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Closure of Glasgow Jobcentres

Closure of Glasgow Jobcentres

OPFS believes that closure of half of Glasgow’s job centres will have a devastating impact on parents who rely on the service, particularly single parents, and will negatively impact the aim of supporting people into employment. This will cause huge problems and it’s inexplicable that the Westminster government seem to have no concern about the barriers and potential hardship being raised by this.

OPFS wishes to highlight the following concerns:

  • The number of parents that will require job centre contact is likely to increase due to parents having to return to paid employment when they’re youngest child is 3 years or above
  • Under Universal Credit more people that are already in paid employment will have to attend work coach interviews if they are working less than 35 hours per week (less than 16 hours if youngest child 12 or under)
  • The cost and time implication of parents having to travel even further to their nearest job centre is likely to result in an increase of sanctions
  • The Increased stress of having to pay bus fares out of limited income and arrive in time when a child may only be in nursery for 3.25 hours session

OPFS Director Satwat Rehman said:
“We are appalled at the proposed plans to close half of all jobcentres in Glasgow and wish to make clear our strong opposition to this proposal as the impact will have an extremely detrimental effect on single parents in Glasgow. There are so many reasons why this decision goes against the needs of the local community that we feel it is completely unacceptable and I strongly believe the current proposals should be reconsidered.”

Based on both our experiences of working with single parents and other available expert evidence, we conclude that the ongoing experience of living day to day with conditionality is having a profoundly negative effect on single parent families’ health and well-being, and is undermining efforts to tackle health inequality.

Already inadequate social security benefits exacerbate the fear of being sanctioned because many single parent families have no financial resources or safety net to fall back on. OPFS is seeing increasing numbers of single parents who are suffering from anxiety and depression associated with the fear of being sanctioned. Closures of local JCP offices will add to this severe pressure.

JCP Glasgow Closures – Comment from OPFS

Further Information available from:

Marion Davis
Head of Policy and Strategy
One Parent Families Scotland
100 Wellington Street, Glasgow, G2 6DH
Tel: 0141 847 0444
Mobile: 07794226484
Email

OPFS Submission to DWP Consultation 

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Edinburgh Lone Fathers Project

Edinburgh Lone Fathers Project

Our Edinburgh dads workers have had a fun Autumn, supporting kids and their fathers in lots of ways. For Halloween, we joined forces with Making it Work to have a brilliant party in South Edinburgh with all the families we work with. With loads of games and contests, a bouncy castle, and disco supplied by one of our dads, a good time was had by all.

See more about our Edinburgh Dads Club or contact Brock Lueck on 0131 556 3899.

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Have a Bite and a Blether in Dundee

Have a Bite and a Blether in Dundee

Come and join us at our “A Bite and A Blether” sessions. Where you can have a cuppa and a bite to eat and chat to our friendly workers in relaxed surroundings. Get information, advice and support about any issues affecting family life, from our experienced staff who can help with any worries you might have.

Places available for women, men, parents and families within the Dundee area on the following days:

  • Monday: 9 am – 12 noon
    Parent sessions, Community Services Complex, 101 Whitfield Drive (confidential one to one support available)
  • Monday: 12 noon – 2 pm
    Open session for all, Fintryside Community Flat, No.87, Bottom Right.
  • Wednesday: 10 am – 12 noon
    Men only sessions, St Mary’s Community Flat, 14 St Boswells Terrace, bottom left.
  • Thursday: 5 pm – 7 pm
    Family sessions, St Mary’s Community Flat, 14 St Boswells Terrace, bottom left. (confidential one to one support available)
  • Friday: 12 noon -4 pm
    Women only sessions, St Mary’s Community Flat, 14 St Boswells Terrace, bottom left.

 

For more information about these sessions please telephone 01382 501972 or email.

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Registered as: One Parent Families Scotland, a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered at Edinburgh under number 094860. Scottish Charity Number SC006403