Dane to advise on Scots welfare – ‘Only independence can save the welfare state and a free-to-use NHS from Westminster cuts argues SNP’ : Herald Scotland

Herald and Sunday Scotland



Tom Gordon
Scottish Political Editor


A DANISH expert on cradle-to-grave welfare services across Scandinavia is to help plan the welfare system of an independent Scotland. 

Amid growing support within the SNP for the so-called Common Weal model of a big-state, high-tax Scotland on Nordic lines, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed Jon Kvist of the University of Southern Denmark to the Government’s expert group on welfare.

A member of the Nordic Horizons project which raises awareness of the Nordic countries in Scotland, Kvist, a professor of comparative social policy, was appointed because of his “particular expertise in comparative welfare state studies and in European social policy analysis”.

He co-edited Changing Social Equality: The Nordic Welfare Model in the 21st Century, which looks at the changing nature of Nordic welfare since the recession began in 2008.

The Nordic welfare system focuses on reducing inequalities in society, and emphasises quality of life as well as income levels.

It implies a bigger role for the state in people’s lives, and is geared to getting people off benefits and into work as their taxes are needed to pay for the welfare system’s high costs.

The Common Weal model suggests such ideas should be imported to make Scotland a healthier, wealthier, fairer and less divided society.

The new expert group, a refreshed version of an earlier group which gave an interim report to ministers in June, will consider the principles, policies, costs and delivery of working- age benefits in an independent Scotland.

Its focus will be Scottish-specific policies to “support people who can work into sustained employment” and “support people who can’t work to participate in society as fully as possible”.

Ministers have made it clear there can be no blank cheque for a new system, with the group told to bear in mind “the economic and fiscal circumstances” and consider potential savings as well as the costs of any new policies, and to suggests how such costs might be met.

The group, originally formed in January to look at how “Scottish values” could make the welfare system fairer, is due to report in spring of next year.

Besides Kvist, Sturgeon has also appointed a prominent member of the Common Weal project to the body, one of five new members to join.

They are Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Housing Trust; David Watt, head of the Institute of Directors in Scotland; Annie Gunner Logan, director of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland; and Ailsa McKay, professor of economics at Glasgow Caledonian University and member of the Common Weal project. It will be chaired by Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie Trust and a former chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, one of the original members appointed in January.

Also staying on are carer Lynn Williams of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Mike Brewer, professor of economics at the University of Essex.

McKay recently suggested a specific wealth tax could be levied on the richest Scots and Scottish businesses to help pay for universal childcare provision, helping women back into the workplace.

She said better childcare would not only improve the life chances of children, it would also increase the economic activity of their parents, and boost the status of childcare as a profession.

Sunday Herald Scotland


‘Welfare debate is welcome’


THE updated and enlarged Scottish Government expert group on welfare offers some intriguing clues to the SNP’s evolving tactics in the referendum campaign. 

The original four-member group announced in January – rapidly expanded to five to correct the omission of a female contributor – is now eight strong as it gets down to its detailed work on the principles, policies, costs and delivery of a Scottish welfare system in the event of a Yes vote next year.

It will be limited to examining working-age benefits, meaning pensions, which account for around half of all welfare spending, are the subject of separate work.

But it is a welcome development.

The most obvious change is the inclusion of an academic from overseas. Professor Jon Kvist, of the University of Southern Denmark, is an expert on the welfare systems found in the Nordic countries, which try to reduce inequality by addressing people’s sense of well-being as well as their incomes.

Also included is Glasgow-based economist Ailsa McKay, a leading light in the Common Weal project promoted by the Jimmy Reid Foundation to help shape a wealthier and fairer Scotland.

Taken alongside growing interest in the Common Weal in the SNP hierarchy, the appointments signal a move towards a vision of an independent Scotland on the Nordic model.

They also suggest a key argument of the SNP’s campaign will be that only independence can save the welfare state and a free-to-use NHS from Westminster cuts.

As Nordic systems are funded by high taxes, it will not be an easy pitch to voters, but it should lead to the overdue, big debate about the nation we want to be.

13 thoughts on “Dane to advise on Scots welfare – ‘Only independence can save the welfare state and a free-to-use NHS from Westminster cuts argues SNP’ : Herald Scotland

  1. Margaret says:

    I live in Scotland and hope that somehow the Scottish Government can do things differently for those of us with Mental Health Problems who have been thrown off the ESA benefit.
    Unfortunately for me I have a higher than average education and intelligence, or so I am told. This makes me on the surface look to be capable of work. Because I can string words together and understand things this makes me capable of work, or so ATOS say. They are not interested in the fact that I never go out alone or that I need to prepare myself if I go out accompanied. They don’t consider it relevant that I suffer severe anxiety if I have to deal with people.
    My local benefits adviser has told me not to speak up at an appeal hearing or to write things on the questionnaires I have been sent that show this intelligence. As no-one will believe me. So I am not only discriminated against because I have Mental Health Problems but also because of my education!!!
    As part of my problem is about admitting my problem, about discussing it, or even thinking about it, how can I explain this to someone else? Especially if I am to be quiet at an appeal?

    1. Karen M says:

      You do have a dilemma Margaret. If I were you I would use my knowledge of my condition to explain in a submission the substantial risks to myself should I be found capable of work. Explain any effects your mental health problem has on your behaviour and everyday activities. Link the explanations directly to the medical evidence you have. Talk about the side effects of medication in the same way, as if they are a health condition.

      Your benefits advisor doesn’t know have your condition affects you day to day and this is what the tribunal will want to establish. Your voice is part of the burden of proof of your extreme anxiety. It will not matter if you have an anxiety attack at the hearing as this will be more evidence, the panel might even stop the hearing and make a decision then and there if there is medical evidence substantiating what they are witnessing.

      Do you have written reports from specialists and a GP letter of support as medical evidence? They will be most of the burden of proof that the DWP decision was wrong. The remaining part of the burden of proof is you (paper hearings are much less successful).

  2. jay says:

    Margaret, Atos have been proved to be liars by all that have gone through this.
    Their reports are not worth the paper they are written on, see the post about the Doctor that blew the whistle on them.
    I went through a tribunal representing myself, it was nerve wracking but I thought it would be best to do so because I can explain the drawbacks of my illness more than someone who does not suffer from it.
    I would take your representative with you and together with your Doctor’s written support use your intelligence and your representative’s knowledge of the law to win the tribunal.
    Best of luck, try not to worry too much the odds are stacked highly in your favour.
    Maybe one day we will have a system that will really try to support and help the ill, disabled and unemployed to find a solution that puts their needs first.
    Everyone can be helped to do something positive and useful but before that can happen this culture of bullying and harassment by government bodies and private contractors needs to stop

  3. Annos says:

    “Scottish National Party advances “Common Weal” project”


    “An independent Scotland might scrap the “bedroom tax” only to keep the benefit cap, Alex Salmond has hinted.”


    Did I read the word “might” in that!!!.

    Of course the SNP were going to leave NATO, staying in NATO in an independent Scotland now, there’s talk by some in the SNP of also keeping Trident in Scotland. How times have changed, you just can’t trust the SNP, just like you can’t trust ANY of the main parties!!!.

  4. Annos says:

    “An independent Scotland might scrap the “bedroom tax” only to keep the benefit cap, Alex Salmond has hinted.”


    Did I read the word “might” in that!!!.

    Of course the SNP were going to leave NATO, staying in NATO in an independent Scotland now, there’s talk by some in the SNP of also keeping Trident in Scotland. How times have changed, you just can’t trust the SNP, just like you can’t trust ANY of the main parties!!!.


    Over 8000 children face Homelessness Due To Benefit Cap … And It’s Barely Even Begun
    Posted on August 9, 2013 by johnny void

    Over 8000 children are staring homelessness in the face this Summer due to the vicious benefit cap which punishes parents for the astronomical rents charged by landlords.

    Recently released statistics show that 1,621 families in the London boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Haringey and Enfield have had benefits cut by over £50 a week meaning homelessness is virtually inevitable. A further thousand have lost up to £50 a week, which combined with other benefit changes means many of them will also also be unable to pay the rent.

    Most of those having benefits capped are larger families and statistics show over 8000 children will be affected. Families are likely to be forced into temporary, and often more expensive, accommodation to await relocation elsewhere in the UK. According to the DWP themselves families are expected to head for the seaside towns in South East England or the Home Counties. A recently released report by London Councils (PDF) warned that the previously introduced cap on Housing Benefits may be responsible for rent rises in outer London boroughs as the social cleansing of central London pushes up demand for rented properties to the outskirts.

    The statistics were released in the week that it was revealed bungling DWP officials are spending £1.3 million a month administering the cap. A rough analysis of the figures suggests it is saving about a million a month so far. That saving alone is likely to be wiped out by the cost of temporarily housing these homeless families alone, without the social costs of these lives destroyed or the impact on local services wherever they eventually end up.

    This Government is spending money to make children homeless. Children who will not understand why they have to leave the house or flat they may have grown up in and move into a single room in a dismal B&B or hostel. Why they have to leave not just school but friends, grandparents, and other family members. Why they can no longer see a separated parent, or why mum cannot afford the astronomical public transport fares for them to maintain relationships with extended family members. The impact of homelessness followed by relocation on these children will be devastating and remain with them for a lifetime.

    Tragically these 8000 children are just the beginning. The four boroughs in the pilot area already represent some of the cheapest rental areas in London. Between now and October the cap is being introduced nationwide. According to the Government 200,000 children are set to be affected.

    Even then the cleansing of London and other Southern cities will continue as rents soar and Housing Benefit rises are pegged at 1%. Women who find themselves pregnant at some point in the future will also be hit and face a choice between homelessness or abortion.

    The Benefit Cap means the safety net of the welfare state has disappeared for families in London and the cost of that will be 200,000 childhoods destroyed. As rents rise in other cities a similar exodus is likely to occur whilst for some very large families there will be nowhere cheap enough to go.

    Whilst the Tories sing this brutal policy from the rooftops children will go hungry and homeless as the Government takes revenge on their so-called feckless parents. And feckless means widows, disabled people, women fleeing domestic violence or parents unable to find a full time job that also allows them to also adequately care for young children or even new born babies. These children do not know that they are benefit scrounging scum. And when they see their mother’s crying as much loved family homes are abandoned they will not be able to comprehend the cruelty that has brought those tears.


    Soon be winter, my joints are starting to hurt bad as the temperatures subside.
    Looking forward to gazing at the beautiful patterns in the ice on the insides of my windows. The gas fire has not been lit for four years now but the glow from the cuppa soup and several layers of clothing should ease the pains………….
    Some will be celebrating, but i doubt the poor, homeless and disabled, will not be taking part this year.
    The DWP party, with its banter about achieving sanction tables and “how i made them suffer”, will be in full swing.
    Staff bonuses from the £44 million they stole from us will help pave the way for a great night out, alcohol running freely as their victims idly stare at the clocks, shivering and wishing they could end it all………
    Ofgem and its ilk will also be on a jolly up, talk of how they misled the public once again and sided with their paymasters to push the energy prices beyond the realms of the most vulnerable.
    As the clock strikes midnight on christmas eve, many will have perished. Hopefully they will transfer to a better life where people treat people like human beings. Their are no shirkers with closed curtains or disabled being spat at.
    They might have considered the alternative, the infernos of hades, at least it would be warm!
    What would we do if we had a bonus for failure? Could you ever consider a real branded item from a top shelf or would it be the usual, economy line plain wrapper item that you have grown so used to buying?

    Yes, Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, and so is, Duncan Smith, the evil fucking prat!

    ……..as the last chimes of Christmas eve, herald in Christmas day, those of you who can still manage, raise an empty glass to those who could not see the error of their ways………….

    Doth your cap as the hearse of welfare reform sneaks past your window, crunching tyres on the newly fallen snow as the crackers are pulled in Downing Street………..

  7. Geoff Reynolds says:

    Please observe this freedom of information request that shows that the DWP are hellbent on sending the disabled on non paid workfare, benefits only………..
    What i find distasteful is they say the pilot is voluntary but go to say that a HCPs decision cannot be overruled by your GP. (SEE SECTION 9).
    As always they have seen fit, not to answer the questions posed but enter into completely different territory.
    These questions were posed on the “what do they know” website.

    14 August 2013

    Dear Ms Ong,

    Freedom of Information Act – Request for Information
    Our Reference: FoI 3528

    Thank you for your Freedom of Information request dated 26 July 2013.

    You asked some general questions and some questions specific to the proposed 18-24 months
    prognosis pilots, the Freedom of Information Officer has attributed the responses to the pilots

    Will appellants waiting to go to tribunal because of grade c reports by inept HCP’s, be
    mandated to attend?

    Can a doctor, nurse or physio employed in conjunction with the DWP, enforce a course
    of action or taking of medicines, against the wishes of the claimant, the claimants own GP, or the
    claimants specialist advisors?

    Who will be ultimately responsible if the course of action results in the death of a

    Will the claimant be expected to sign a declaration that they agree to any course of
    action that is thrust upon them in an effort to seek work?

    Will the declaration be a legal requirement that transfers the onus of responsibility to the
    claimant in the event of a fatal accident or severe consequence of the actions of the exercise?

    Can home visits be requested by a doctor? I stress doctor because it has come to light
    that a HCP or PHYSIO is not qualified to write a sick report.

    What enhanced support could be given by a jobcentre worker?

    Is the jobcentre worker fully trained in disability analysis, treatment and effects?

    By virtue of the fact that you have chosen to include, “they will not replace a persons GP”
    casts much doubt on the inabilities of the health team who will carry out the procedures. Will the
    claimants own GP have the authority to deny any procedures that are prescribed?

    Are work programme providers au fait with the needs of the disabled and the extent of
    their dexterity and mental ability in the workforce?

    Has an impact assessment been done on the effects of this 2 year pilot scheme?

    Will the pilot areas be places of high unemployment or places with a high rate of jobs that
    disabled would be able to undertake?

    Would any placements for a disabled person in a workplace, attract less money than the
    benefit they have been afforded due to their disability?

    14/ Finally, if the claimant was to suffer in any way whilst in employment, would they be
    removed from further trials with no sanctions attached?

    Background: The aim of the Pilot is to assess whether a focus on the health of Employment
    and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants delivered by mandatory engagement with Healthcare
    Professionals or increased Jobcentre resource or the Work Programme is more or less effective

    In response to your questions:

    Claimants in the pilot areas with a new 18-24 month prognosis will be mandated to the
    pilot. If the claimant is waiting for the outcome of an appeal they will remain on the pilot until their
    prognosis changes.

    No, claimants are mandated to attend interviews with a Healthcare Professional (HCP).
    Participation in any activities suggested by the HCP is voluntary.

    The Freedom of Information Act is about supplying recorded information held by a public
    authority. It is not an appropriate route for general questions about death of claimants and DWP
    cannot create information in an attempt to answer your request.

    4 & 5. Participation in any activity is voluntary.

    There is provision in the Medical Services contract that home visits can be arranged if the
    claimant’s circumstances merit this. This would be done with the full agreement of the claimant
    and would only be required in exceptional circumstances.

    Claimants will benefit from a significant increase in adviser time (around six times current
    levels) to help provide more effective employment and health related support. The increased
    support should help to address the claimant’s needs, provide signposting to other supportive
    organisations and source suitable work-related activity. The frequency and length of contacts will
    be flexible.

    All Jobcentre Advisers involved in the pilot will be fully trained and will receive any
    additional employment- focused training required.

    If the HCP was unsure of any aspect of the claimant’s treatment the claimant would be
    referred back to their own GP. Claimants’ GPs will not have the authority to deny any
    procedures recommended in the 18-24 months prognosis pilots.

    10. Work
    Programme providers have the flexibility to design an innovative and personalised
    approach to help all participants into work. Whilst participating on the Work Programme, it is the
    provider’s primary goal to improve participant’s employability and tailor support based on their
    needs. Some people will need more support than others and if a participant volunteers that they
    have physical or mental health issues, the provider will develop a plan to help them to achieve
    their specific job goals.

    If the prime provider can not help a participant directly, they engage with local specialist
    organisations and work with a broad range of subcontractors to deliver the tailored support that
    can help them into work. This may include organisations that are part of the voluntary and
    community sector. The range of services delivered by these organisations is very diverse and
    covers both mental health and physical health conditions.

    Impact analysis has taken place. All DWP projects must consider equality to meet legal
    requirements and embed this into appropriate products as part of the proposed pilot’s lifecycles.
    Equality legislation requires DWP to consider equality as part of their decision making process.

    The pilot areas are based on geographical locations to ensure that the number of
    potential eligible claimants is sufficient to conduct a valid evaluation of the pilots. This also
    ensures that the pilot results can be fairly evaluated and will not be affected by other pilots being
    conducted in those areas.

    Work placement opportunities for participants on the Work Programme are not paid
    employment. Placement opportunities, as well as having a training element, are intended to
    foster a work habit, whilst boosting confidence and creating work opportunities for individuals.

    The claimant would not be in employment whilst taking part in the pilot. They would leave
    the pilot if they found work. They would also leave the pilot if they were moved to the Support
    Group (following a Work Capability Assessment), where no sanctions are applied.

    If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

    Yours sincerely

    Business Management Team


    I keep studying the answers that the Dwp give in responses to freedom of information requests.
    The question of “How many have died?”, has been raised over forty times but the department keeps trying to evade giving out the answer which is readily available to them.

    Excuses like, we have some of the information, but it will cost more than £600, therefore we cannot give you the information, is used frequently……..

    Every death is a human life, someones son or daughter, yet the DWP regard it as a sport, justified by the instructions of deranged government ministers and their advisors, sat firmly in the grip of their paymasters.

    Every question they refuse to answer pushes them further into a corner, in fact the people who raise the questions are much more educated that the persons answering.

    The fightback is astounding me! People are starting to realise what a shower of shit the DWP really are……….

    The world wants educating on the way we are being treated.

    Britain is corrupt from top to bottom, wherever there is an issue, someone is pulling strings from behind the scenes………….

    Lobbying is like an out of control poison that permeates every decision in parliament.
    Backhanders, bribes and favouritism go virtually unchecked as the spread reaches epidemic proportions.
    Police are being utilised to try and quell the opposition to fracking in a small village.
    One little confrontation could spark rioting in any of the big cities, personally i hope it does………..

    You can control the media but you can’t control, or suppress public opinion…………..

    Soon they will vent their anger, and woe betide anything or anyone who gets in their way…………………


    These crosses are not an indication of love, neither are they an application for spot the ball, they represent the people who have died due to government cuts since the coalition came to power.

    Each and every cross represents a human being, somebody’s son or daughter, who has succumbed to the “Murder by Decree” policy which is in full swing in the UK.
    The true extent of this butchery, and i repeat butchery, will never be made public as the powers that be, distort information to try and bury it……
    The only thing they bury is our loved ones……


    Maybe one of your family or friends are represented here……
    While the clock ticks, the pendulum moves to and fro, the list becomes ever greater.

  10. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    The amount of crosses seems unbelievable, the true amount is seventeen times the length of that line…………

  11. Karen M says:

    If an independent Scotland is to be “high tax” I hope this will only be on earnings over say £10,000. Low corporation tax should encourage investment and growth and low VAT more equitable for people on low incomes.

    Certainly policy-makers should look at avoiding the omnishambles that the coalition has created with social security, the NHS and education.

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