Commission calls for 'due regard duty' to advance right to social security

The Scottish Human Rights Commission, with the support of a range of leading civil society organisations, has today published guidance on a proposed amendment to the Social Security Bill that would see Ministers placed under a duty to have ‘due regard’ to the international human right to social security.

The amendment lodged by Mark Griffin MSP reflects proposals made by the Commission which would advance the right to social security in practice. It will be considered by the Social Security Committee of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 1 February.

Read the Commission’s full briefing.

The proposed due regard duty would require Scottish Ministers and public authorities to pay attention to the right to social security as outlined in international human rights law when implementing the new devolved social security powers. It would also mean that the right to social security has to be considered when courts and tribunals make decisions around social security.

The Commission believes this would ensure that the principles of the Bill, which recognise social security as a human right, are realised in practice.

The right to social security is written into many international treaties that the UK and therefore Scotland is signed up to. This includes the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - ICESCR for short. Guidance has also been provided by the ICESCR Committee of the UN in what is known as General Comment 19. This sets out the duties of state bodies, in this case the Scottish Government, when providing social security.

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission, said:

“The Commission welcomes progress made so far with aspects of the draft Social Security Bill that advance the right to social security, including the proposed Scottish Commission on Social Security. If accepted, the proposed amendment to create a due regard duty would be a significant additional step in strengthening this legislation in relation to the right to social security, and making it a leading example of international good practice in protecting and realising human rights. We look forward to the Committee’s debate and hope that Scotland’s parliamentarians will take the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to progressing human rights.”


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