Benefits for prisoners could be fast-tracked

PIC IAN RUTHERFORD
PIC IAN RUTHERFORD

Benefit claims could be fast-tracked for prisoners leaving Barlinnie to provide financial security on release.

Inmates at Scotland’s largest prison would get help to prepare the necessary documentation and secure housing before their sentence comes to an end.

It is hoped the move would reduce re-offending and “the strain on the public purse”.

A Glasgow City Council officer said the ‘Barlinnie Prison Project’ is currently in the “very early stages”. Discussions have been carried out with staff and prisoners.

She continued: “It’s to understand what role the council can play in supporting those being liberated from prison. What’s floated to the top in discussions is the prisoners, on leaving, are needing secure housing and support with accessing money, welfare, benefits etc.”

Council staff have been working with housing associations and social workers on the project.

The officer said: “It’s to try and provide a holistic offer to people leaving prison to try and reduce re-offending, which is obviously not ideal for the client and for the cost to the local authority.

“It looks as though that’s going to have some really positive outcomes.”

An update on the project, which was included in the council’s Financial Inclusion Strategy for 2020 to 2025, states: “Each year approximately £500million is spent on support services to cope with reoffenders. The project sets out to assist offenders in fast-tracking their claim to social security benefits, preparing the necessary identity and banking documentation in advance of their release.”

This “will ensure their benefits are paid timeously, providing them with the financial security”.

Providing housing and support services, such as Jobs and Business Glasgow and health care programmes, “sets an aspiration that these former offenders will be rehabilitated” and “become an asset to their local communities, while reducing the strain on the public purse”, the report adds.