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Help shape the new Scottish social security system

Help shape the new Scottish social security system

Have Your Say. Join Experience Panels and help the Scottish Government shape the new Scottish social security system.

The Scottish Government will become responsible for some of the benefits currently paid out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It wants to work with people who have recent experience of these benefits so that the Scottish Government can design a new social security system with – and for – the people of Scotland.

View the ‘Have your say’ invitation or take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about the Experience Panels, and what taking part will involve.

Complete the registration form online or print out the registration form and return it by post.

Return your form to:

Freepost SOCIAL SECURITY EXPERIENCE PANELS. (No stamp required)

If you need additional support to register, you can call on Freephone 0800 029 4974 and the operators will help you to complete it over the phone.

The Freephone line is open between the following times:

Monday – Friday: 0830 – 1800 and Saturday: 0900 – 1700

Phone line translation is available if required. British Sign Language (BSL) users can make contact via www.contactscotland-bsl.org. Text phone users can call using the 18001 prefix or SMS users on 07467 447375.

To join the Experience Panels, you will need to fill out the registration form with your details so that you can be contacted about taking part in future Experience Panels research.

The information that you provide will be used for research purposes, will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared outwith the Scottish Government. More information is provided on the ‘Have your say’ invitation.

Registration closes on the 12 May 2017.

View the ‘Have your say’ invitation or take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about the Experience Panels, and what taking part will involve.

Source: Scottish Government

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Up to 32,000 children in Scotland impacted by bereavement benefits cuts

Up to 32,000 children in Scotland impacted by bereavement benefits cuts

Up to 32,000 children in Scotland will bear the brunt of Westminster cuts to bereavement benefits.

MPs are set to debate changes to the Widowed Parent’s Allowance this Thursday , 2nd March,  which will make bereaved single parent families, left struggling financially, face further hardship under Westminster Government plans to slash the Widowed Parent’s Allowance. Changes to the payments, currently made until dependent children leave full-time education, mean from April 6, parents could receive just 18 months’ support.

Over the next 10 years up to 32,000 children in Scotland, whom its predicted will lose a parent due to bereavement, will bear the brunt of Westminster cuts to bereavement benefits. Cuts which mean the average working  single parent family will be £12,000 worse off than under the current scheme and over £30,000 for families with the youngest children. (Source: Childhood Bereavement Network )

OPFS has written to all Scottish MP’s (see letter here) and  is calling on  the Government to pause the introduction of the new Bereavement Support Payment scheme, bring forward the review to which it has committed, and work across parties in order to come up with a solution that mixes the best of the old and the new system, supports those with children for longer, and is fair to those children whose parents weren’t married. Email your MP about the cuts.

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Campaigners welcome Scottish Child Poverty Bill

Campaigners welcome Scottish Child Poverty Bill

Members of the End Child Poverty (ECP) coalition in Scotland have welcomed the introduction of a new Bill aimed at eradicating the scandal of child poverty in Scotland.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, which will now be considered by MSPs, establishes ambitious new targets for the reduction and eradication of child poverty and places a duty on the Scottish Government to produce and report on delivery plans highlighting how those targets will be met. For the first time local authorities and health boards will also have a legal duty to report on the action they are taking to reduce child poverty.

Coalition members includeOPFS,  Barnardo’s Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Children 1st, the Poverty Alliance  and Children in Scotland.

View press release

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Community Choices in Castlemilk

Community Choices in Castlemilk

OPFS and Ardenglen Housing Association in Glasgow have been awarded funding through the Scottish Government Community Choices Fund to work with parents and children to innovate solutions to the Cost of the School Day, using a participatory budgeting model.

We have been working with parents from two schools in Castlemilk, Miller Primary and John Paul II, looking at ways to reduce the hidden costs of going to school based on the findings of the CPAG-Scot-Cost-Of-School-Day-Report

Parents are aware that poverty can impact on children’s experience of school and are focusing on costs around school uniforms, packed lunches, school trips, dress down days and after school activities. The parents from the two schools will decide on how a pot of £10,000 per school should be spent, and all ideas will be voted on at the Decision Day event on the 18th March.

For more information on this project please contact Marie Spalding on 01414870444 or marie.spalding@opfs.org.uk 

Participatory Budgeting 9th Feb Poster

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Family Support Falkirk

Family Support Falkirk

Following a conversation with single parents and professionals around some of the issues families face when living in a rural community, it became evident access to shops, activities and resources were the main issues.

The STV Children’s Appeal has awarded the Centre £46,471 to help us address some of these issues.

We intend to support families’ especially single parent families with their transport issues, access to low cost provisions from supermarkets, access to clothing required for the added cost of the school day, family outings and access to resources which can aid physical and mental wellbeing, development and family relationships.

We have set up a space where families, especially single parent families can join us for a community meal once per week, volunteer for gardening where we will grow fresh vegetables and distribute them to individuals accessing the Hub.

Parents have access to a small bank of emergency items which could help families struggling to make their money last until their next payment and tackle the growing cost of the school day by having access to clothes which could be worn during dress up/down days at school.

We are training a centre based Heat Energy Advice and Income Maximization Officer, who will support families to maximize their disposable income, and we will be able to source further funding to allow us to aid the purchase of items which would reduce energy costs, such as heavy curtains, rugs and bedding.

contact information:

Telephone 01324 711271 or email 

68/70 Forgie Crescent
Maddiston
Falkirk
FK2 0LZ

STV Appeal logo

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Closure of Glasgow Jobcentres

Closure of Glasgow Jobcentres

OPFS believes that closure of half of Glasgow’s job centres will have a devastating impact on parents who rely on the service, particularly single parents, and will negatively impact the aim of supporting people into employment. This will cause huge problems and it’s inexplicable that the Westminster government seem to have no concern about the barriers and potential hardship being raised by this.

OPFS wishes to highlight the following concerns:

  • The number of parents that will require job centre contact is likely to increase due to parents having to return to paid employment when they’re youngest child is 3 years or above
  • Under Universal Credit more people that are already in paid employment will have to attend work coach interviews if they are working less than 35 hours per week (less than 16 hours if youngest child 12 or under)
  • The cost and time implication of parents having to travel even further to their nearest job centre is likely to result in an increase of sanctions
  • The Increased stress of having to pay bus fares out of limited income and arrive in time when a child may only be in nursery for 3.25 hours session

OPFS Director Satwat Rehman said:
“We are appalled at the proposed plans to close half of all jobcentres in Glasgow and wish to make clear our strong opposition to this proposal as the impact will have an extremely detrimental effect on single parents in Glasgow. There are so many reasons why this decision goes against the needs of the local community that we feel it is completely unacceptable and I strongly believe the current proposals should be reconsidered.”

Based on both our experiences of working with single parents and other available expert evidence, we conclude that the ongoing experience of living day to day with conditionality is having a profoundly negative effect on single parent families’ health and well-being, and is undermining efforts to tackle health inequality.

Already inadequate social security benefits exacerbate the fear of being sanctioned because many single parent families have no financial resources or safety net to fall back on. OPFS is seeing increasing numbers of single parents who are suffering from anxiety and depression associated with the fear of being sanctioned. Closures of local JCP offices will add to this severe pressure.

JCP Glasgow Closures – Comment from OPFS

Further Information available from:

Marion Davis
Head of Policy and Strategy
One Parent Families Scotland
100 Wellington Street, Glasgow, G2 6DH
Tel: 0141 847 0444
Mobile: 07794226484
Email

OPFS Submission to DWP Consultation 

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Edinburgh Lone Fathers Project

Edinburgh Lone Fathers Project

Our Edinburgh dads workers have had a fun Autumn, supporting kids and their fathers in lots of ways. For Halloween, we joined forces with Making it Work to have a brilliant party in South Edinburgh with all the families we work with. With loads of games and contests, a bouncy castle, and disco supplied by one of our dads, a good time was had by all.

See more about our Edinburgh Dads Club or contact Brock Lueck on 0131 556 3899.

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Have a Bite and a Blether in Dundee

Have a Bite and a Blether in Dundee

Come and join us at our “A Bite and A Blether” sessions. Where you can have a cuppa and a bite to eat and chat to our friendly workers in relaxed surroundings. Get information, advice and support about any issues affecting family life, from our experienced staff who can help with any worries you might have.

Places available for women, men, parents and families within the Dundee area on the following days:

  • Monday: 9 am – 12 noon
    Parent sessions, Community Services Complex, 101 Whitfield Drive (confidential one to one support available)
  • Monday: 12 noon – 2 pm
    Open session for all, Fintryside Community Flat, No.87, Bottom Right.
  • Wednesday: 10 am – 12 noon
    Men only sessions, St Mary’s Community Flat, 14 St Boswells Terrace, bottom left.
  • Thursday: 5 pm – 7 pm
    Family sessions, St Mary’s Community Flat, 14 St Boswells Terrace, bottom left. (confidential one to one support available)
  • Friday: 12 noon -4 pm
    Women only sessions, St Mary’s Community Flat, 14 St Boswells Terrace, bottom left.

 

For more information about these sessions please telephone 01382 501972 or email.

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Busy Bees Family Fun Sessions

Busy Bees Family Fun Sessions

Our Busy Bees sessions are all about playing and having fun together. There are different things to do every week including singing, messy play, getting active, crafts and storytelling. Parents and carers can have a short break during the session if they wish to have a cuppa, while their babies and children are cared for by our qualified childcare workers.

This is an opportunity for parents to chat to other parents and re-charge their batteries. This free weekly group is open to all families with babies and pre-school aged children.

Every Tuesday, 10am – 11.30am at Whitfield Community Services Complex, 101 Whitfield Drive, Dundee, DD4 0DX

Contact Lynne Blair on 01382 501972 or email for more information.

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January 2017 training programme for professionals

January 2017 training programme for professionals

We’ve just announced our January 2017 training programme for professionals working with single parents. Courses are booking now and are free.

There are three half-day courses available:

  • Universal Credit
  • Child Maintenance Service
  • Conditionality and Sanctions

 

Universal Credit

Updated for 2016/17, this course is aimed at professionals working with single parent families who want to understand how universal credit will affect their clients.

This half day course covers:

  • The application process
  • Timetable for introduction
  • The individual elements that make up universal credit
  • How the calculation works
  • Sanctions and hardship payments

Basic benefit knowledge is an advantage but not necessary.

Edinburgh dates:

 

Child Maintenance Service

Now that Child Support Agency cases are being closed, parents will have to make a decision whether to opt for a family-based arrangement or use the new statutory Child Maintenance Service for which there is a charge. This course will help professionals understand how the new system works and prepare parents for the choices they will have to make.

This half day course covers:

  • The mandatory gateway
  • Charging for parents with care and non-resident parents
  • How child maintenance is calculated
  • Updating of maintenance assessments
  • Shared care arrangements
  • Child Support Agency case closure

Edinburgh dates:

 

Conditionality and Sanctions

Currently single parents are required to be actively seeking employment once their youngest child turns 5 years. This will be lowering to 3 years post April 2017. The move from income support to jobseeker’s allowance can be a difficult transition. If you are supporting single parents into employment then you will want to know how to get the best from the claimant commitment and the actions that must be taken to avoid a sanction being imposed.

This half day course covers:

  • The process of claiming jobseeker’s allowance
  • The importance of the claimant commitment
  • Conditionality groups
  • Sanctions
  • Hardship payments

Basic benefit knowledge is an advantage but not necessary.

Edinburgh dates:

 

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Registered as: One Parent Families Scotland, a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered at Edinburgh under number 094860. Scottish Charity Number SC006403