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6 August, 2020 Open access

Scottish Human Rights Commission calls for Scottish Government to do more to realise people’s human right to social security during COVID-19 pandemic

While welcoming what the government has done so far, Commission suggests further action, including speeding up delivery of Scottish Child Payment and to repeat the June 2020 increase in the carer's allowance supplement

While welcoming the Scottish Government’s efforts to realise people’s human right to social security during the COVID-19 pandemic, more could be done, the Scottish Human Rights Commission has said.

In a new report, COVID-19: Implications for the Human Right to Social Security in Scotland, the Commission provides information about the right to social security, as set out in international law, and insight into the current effect of coronavirus (COVID-19) on people’s enjoyment of socio-economic protections, specifically their right to social security.

The Commission highlights that households across Scotland are still struggling to stay afloat, particularly those including women, children, people with disabilities and low-income families. This, the Commission says, is despite the introduction of measures at a UK level to preserve or boost incomes - such as the job retention scheme and increases to universal credit and working tax credit - and the introduction in Scotland of extra funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund, Hardship Fund and Food Fund; and the additional payment to people in receipt of carer’s allowance supplement paid in June 2020.

In addition, the Commission notes that the Scottish Government has committed to taking a human rights-based approach to the design and implementation of social security in Scotland, and that this approach is especially critical within the context of COVID-19, although it adds that more needs to be done -

‘It will support the continued implementation of the government’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to social security through improving the Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Quality of devolved social security.

The Commission welcomes the Scottish Government’s various efforts to realise people’s right to social security at this time, however, more could be done and responding to [our] recommendations would further reflect the government’s commitment in taking a human rights based approach.’

As a result, among the Commission’s recommendations for further action are that -

NB- the Commission's has also published a new housing-focused report, Implications for the Human Right to Adequate Housing in Scotland during COVID-19, that includes a recommendation to continue protections against evictions while household incomes remain under stress as Scotland recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, see COVID-19: Implications for the Human Right to Social Security in Scotland from scottishhumanrights.com