New chief will use per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence to im­prove sys­tem

Daily Record - - NEWS -

pretty hor­ren­dous, hu­mil­i­at­ing, highly stress­ful as­sess­ment pro­ce­dures.

“I have, at a per­sonal level, di­rect, lived ex­pe­ri­ence of some of the is­sues peo­ple will have when it comes to claim­ing re­served ben­e­fits.

“That gives me a real pas­sion and per­sonal com­mit­ment to re­ally do­ing my ut­most to en­sure the new Scot­tish so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem does treat peo­ple with dig­nity and re­spect.”

Witcher’s un­usual route to her new post in­cluded a first-class de­gree in fine art. She got in­volved in dis­abil­ity and anti-poverty or­gan­i­sa­tions and took on a masters de­gree in pol­icy stud­ies at Ed­in­burgh Uni­ver­sity.

Orig­i­nally from Eng­land, she has lived in the city since 1998.

Witcher worked at the DWP be­tween 2006 and 2010, be­fore de­cid­ing she wasn’t cut out for the role.

She said: “The thing about be­ing a civil ser­vant is you’re not there to drive for­ward what you per­son­ally be­lieve in. You’re there to de­liver the agenda of elected politi­cians.”

Witcher started claim­ing wel­fare pay­ments in the late 80s. But DLA is be­ing phased out and claimants are be­ing moved to Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ments, with con­tro­ver­sial as­sess­ments to de­ter­mine if awards can be made.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment pub­lished a so­cial se­cu­rity char­ter on Fri­day, set­ting out how peo­ple should be treated in the new sys­tem “based on fair­ness, dig­nity and re­spect”.

So­cial Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary ShirleyAnne Somerville said: “There are few, if any, par­al­lel ex­am­ples of a gov­ern­ment work­ing so closely with the peo­ple they serve to shape a pub­lic ser­vice.”

Last week, Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Amber Rudd ad­mit­ted Uni­ver­sal Credit got off to a dif­fi­cult start and an­nounced some changes to wel­fare poli­cies.

She said: “Maybe things that were pro­posed pre­vi­ously weren’t ef­fec­tive or weren’t com­pas­sion­ate in the way that I want them to be.”

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