A SINGLE financial assessment to decide what benefits people are entitled to would be a “huge leap forward”, it has been suggested.

At Holyrood’s Social Security Committee yesterday, MSPs heard from local authority and welfare advice representatives about the provision and funding of welfare rights services in Scotland.

It followed a report on publicly funded advice services, commissioned by the Scottish Government and published in February last year, which showed that demand for advice is growing but that funding was limited.

The UK Government introduced Universal Credit in an attempt to simplify the system by merging six different benefits for working-age people into one monthly payment. However there have been concerns raised over the accessibility of advice services for people looking to make a claim.

Legislation was passed by MSPs last year to establish a devolved Scottish social security system, with responsibility over 11 welfare benefits being given to Holyrood.

Speaking at the committee, Sandra McDermott, head of financial inclusion at Glasgow City Council, told MSPs that introducing an effective method of calculating what benefits a person or their family are entitled to would be a “fantastic step forward”.

“We’ve got real aspirations about having a single financial assessment,” said McDermott, pictured.

“I’ve got this vision that if you take a person or a family that claim for benefits through the local authority or through one of our partner organisations, that there’s some kind of algorithm that takes account of all the family’s circumstances.

“We actually give people what they’re entitled to.”

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone added: “If you have got that sort of one-stop shop approach, then you would imagine that we can use the welfare rights expertise that we have more efficiently, instead of someone having to make lots of different applications.”