Wider Strategy for Refugees
Among key recommendations of the UNHCR report was the establishment of a national integration strategy to better inform and guide those supporting refugees, for the benefit of this population. Scottish Government’s ‘New Scot Refugee integration strategy 2018- 2022’ was shaped with the input of over 700 refugees and asylum seekers, using various methodologies. 78% of the total responses to the engagement exercise in 2017 commented on the theme of employability and welfare rights.
The first year progress report raises a few questions by omission with regard to how devolved social security features within this wider context, particularly as more forms of devolved assistance come on stream. For example, it cites their need for advice and information on how to navigate the benefits system, and that current benefit processes take too long and should be streamlined. Action reported to address this issue appears solely to concern the DWP.
With regard to the involvement of refugees and the input of their lived experience to devolved social security, we have been unable to establish whether they are represented in Social Security Scotland’s Client Panel, comprised of people using devolved social security from whom feedback on service delivery is sought. We also do not know to what extent they have been involved in the Experience Panels that input to the design of devolved social security. The lived experience of refugees seems important to include.
Observation 3: Scottish Government may wish to consider if and how the experience of refugees in accessing devolved Social Security could contribute to progressing the outcomes of the New Scot Refugee Integration strategy 2018-2022 and the development of future strategy for refugees and how this is integrated into delivery plans.