In her first visit as Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville today visited the Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) in Peebles to meet with people experiencing issues with benefit payments and changes introduced by the UK Government.
Ms Somerville said:
"Meeting with CAB service users and staff was one of my early priorities in my new role. Much of what I have heard today has been depressingly familiar. In Peebles just as in any part of Scotland, there are very deep concerns about the move from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments and the negative impact that this has had on so many people and their families.
"I fully intend to carry on the excellent work of my predecessor Jeane Freeman and ensure we create in Scotland a benefits system that is based upon compassion and respect. I am very much looking forward to working closely with CAB to help achieve that."
Melanie Nairn, Peebles CAB Manager said:
"All of Scotland has felt the impact of the UK government's welfare reforms and Peebles is no different. Our clients come to us with problems about the changeover from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independent Payment (PIP) as well as problems with Universal Credit and benefit cuts in general. Many of our clients are really struggling to make ends meet and need emergency aid and food parcels.
"I appreciated that one of the first visits that the new Social Security Cabinet Secretary wanted to make was to a CAB to hear direct from clients and advisers on the issues we see every day. Not only did she take time to listen to our concerns, she was also able to reassure us that Social Security Scotland will be different and put people first and that's exactly what's needed."