There are a couple of days left to comment on the draft Scottish Social Security Charter, but I’m not going to do that, for a simple reason: it’s excellent, and I have no criticism to make. I’m going to pick out just five points:
- the Charter promises that the agency will listen to people and to trust them. There is long-standing evidence that threatening people with prosecution during the process of claiming is simply destructive.
- the Charter promises that the agency will learn from its mistakes. I commented during the passage of the Bill that while the UK system treats complaints, rectification and review as a quasi-judicial, adversarial process, “other public services attempt to learn from complaints and use them as feedback to improve their processes.” They’re on it.
- Payments will continue while people are appealing a decision. In the UK system, penalties are routinely imposed without a hearing.
- People will be told about their entitlements, including services delivered by other agencies.
- People will not have their time wasted. They promise to “recognise that your time is precious and handle your application and enquiries as quickly as we can.”
This may be a challenge, but can anyone spot the difference between this and the DWP?