The Living Wage should replace the National Minimum Wage, according to the report released today by the Expert Working Group on Welfare. Subject to certain economic conditions being met, the National Minimum Wage should rise (in phased amounts) to equal the Living Wage, currently £7.65 per hour, enabling people to be fairly rewarded by work and lifted out of in-work poverty. The report also recommends re-establishing the link between benefits and the cost of living, with benefits and tax credits (currently subject to a 1% annual increase) being increased each year by the Consumer Prices Index of inflation.
The Expert Working Group, of which the CCPS Director was a member, calls for the scrapping of the Work Capability Assessment, the removal of ‘Bedroom Tax’ and the abolition of the current system of sanctions, to be replaced with a new approach which is personal, proportionate and positive. The report proposes the introduction of a new benefit, the Social Security Allowance (SSA), which would integrate a number of existing benefits, and recommends that the current Carer’s Allowance is increased to the same rate as Jobseekers Allowance. In the longer term, the report proposes that a key focus should be on better supporting those with long-term disability and illness into work and ensuring a more supportive housing market.
Annie Gunner Logan, Director of CCPS, said:
“Every day, care organisations in the voluntary sector witness at close hand the impact of the benefits system – and in particular, the current programme of welfare reform – on the wellbeing of the people they support. There is a significant and growing body of evidence that strongly suggests a need for the considerable resource spent on benefits to be deployed in a different way. It has been a privilege to work as part of a group exploring the potential of a new approach, and I believe that this report, with its emphasis on rebuilding trust and its rejection of the language of blame and stigma that infuses so much of the current debate around welfare, will help to set a new tone for the future of social security in Scotland.”