Now that the dust has settled post-Smith and we’ve had some time to reflect on the new powers that will be coming to Scotland, what are the opportunities for the sector that the powers present?
Firstly, there’s the prospect of strengthening our advocacy and campaigning. With various welfare powers coming to Holyrood we can use our good relationships with Scottish Parliament politicians to push for the kind of benefits that we – and crucially, those we support – want to see. We’ve got a real opportunity here to bring those who are affected by the benefits system to our Holyrood politicians and to make sure their voices are heard in any redesign of devolved benefits.
Secondly, there are opportunities for us to come up with – and actually demonstrate – innovative ways of doing welfare. Whilst many of the powers have restrictions on them, this is an opportunity for us to show that we can run programmes more successfully than they have been by others. Not only will that help people here, but if we are successful, this success would help our colleagues in the rest of the UK point to good examples in Scotland and achieve system change for those they support too.
I will be speaking about these points and others in more detail at EVOC’s thinkSpace event on 27th March, so do come along if you can – I look forward to seeing you there!
Jenny Bloomfield, SCVO