GLASGOW: People in Scotland are missing out on more than £2bn of social security payments on average each year. The impartial Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) estimates Scotland has £428m worth of unclaimed working tax credits or child tax credits. Those helping look after others are entitled to £190m in carer’s allowance which has not been claimed and pensioners are missing out on £210m of pension credit. A total of £251m of housing benefit remains unclaimed and householders throughout Scotland have not claimed £100m of council tax reduction payments. Scottish Labour says the figures for average yearly unclaimed payments show hundreds of thousands of Scots are missing out on support they are entitled to and want the Scottish Government to raise awareness of their entitlements. The party’s social security spokesman Mark Griffin MSP said: “Scots are missing out on £2bn worth of social security payments. Behind every one of these figures is a missed opportunity for Scotland to be a fairer place, delivering more support to those who need it most. “Thanks to Labour pressure, the Scottish Parliament recently voted for a legal duty to ensure that everyone gets the social security payments they are entitled to – that must form part of the forthcoming Social Security Bill. “Making sure, in law, that cash goes to the people who are entitled to it could make a huge difference. Thousands of families across Scotland are one big unexpected bill away from really struggling.
“The Scottish Parliament has the powers to shape a fairer social security system but it’s now time for the SNP government to move away from warm words to action that will make a real difference to the support hundreds of thousands of Scots receive.” A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have a clear commitment to do all we can to see incomes maximised, which is why we believe it is important that people receive all the benefits to which they are entitled. “Unfortunately, at present, benefits are reserved to the UK Government and they have taken no action to improve take-up and provide much-needed support for many people. “That is why, in 2017, we will be taking our own action to support people to take up benefits to which they are entitled including our benefit take-up campaign. “We have also always been clear that having the right advice available is essential to support the most vulnerable and plays a vital role in tackling poverty. “The Fairer Scotland budget is providing £3.6m of funding in 2016/17 for projects designed to provide advice and support services. These projects are helping to maximise incomes and support people to access benefits.”