Majority of Scots think UK benefits system is '˜poor'

Three out of five Scots think the current UK benefits system is either 'poor' or 'very poor', a survey for the Scottish Government has found.

Most Scots lack faith in the benefits system for those out of work. Picture: John Devlin

The figure increased to 68% for those claiming the controversial Universal Credit - which brings a number of different benefits payments together but can see people wait for six weeks or more before they receive the cash.

The figures were revealed in a survey of more than 1,100 people who are part of the social security experience panels that have been set up by the Scottish Government as ministers in Edinburgh prepare to take on new responsibilities over benefits.

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When asked to rank their overall experience of the system on a scale ranging from “very good” to “very poor”, 29% of people gave it the lowest rating while a further 31% described it as “poor”.

Less than a fifth (18%) said their experience had been positive, with 12% ranking the the system as “good” while 6% described it as “very good”.

The remaining 22% of those who were surveyed described the system as “average”.

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For Universal Credit, 68% of the 212 people with experience of it said the system was “poor” or “very poor” while 21% ranked it as “average” and only 10% classed it as being “good” or “very good”.

People who took part in the research were asked about their experience of applying for, getting, challenging and appealing a number of benefits, including disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payments (PIP), carer’s allowance, sure start maternity grants, cold weather payments, winter fuel payments, discretionary housing payments (DHP) and Universal Credit.

It found people with a disability or long-term health condition were more likely than those without such problems to have had a poor experience - with 63% of those with a mental health condition, 62% of those who suffered from chronic pain and 60% of physically disabled describing their experience as either “poor” or “very poor”, compared to 23% of people with no long-term health condition or disability.

People from the most-deprived parts of Scotland were also more likely to have had a poor experience of the benefits system, with 63% of those living in the worst-off communities in this group compared to 51% in the least deprived areas.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “This report reinforces what all our consultation and work so far has told us, that the UK system does not treat people well and there is a great deal to improve on.

“Our unique social security experience panels will play a key role in the design of Scotland’s new service that we are building with the people who will use it.

“Their lived experiences will help to focus our work on the most important areas for improvement as we build a rights-based social security service founded on the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.”