In Scotland, social security is the assistance provided by the Scottish Government to those in financial need, including disability benefits, carer’s allowance, and child payments. The Scottish Government has control over welfare policies and has introduced its own schemes and benefits.
Devolved areas like housing and social care are under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament, leading to the creation of Social Security Scotland to manage devolved benefits. The Scotland Act 2016 granted additional powers to the Scottish Parliament to develop new policies addressing inequality and poverty through social security.
Powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament:
The Scottish Government now has the power to create new benefits and make changes to the existing one, but it cannot reduce the amount of any UK benefits that have already been paid. It has pledged to create a new social security system that is fairer and more compassionate than the UK wide system, hence it focuses on dignity, respect and human rights.
Social Security Scotland Benefits:
The benefits that they deliver include the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, which help towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child.
These payments include:
Scottish Child Payment – money every four weeks to help towards the costs of looking after each child under 16 for families who get certain benefits
Young Carer Grant – an annual payment for people 16, 17 or 18 who care for people who get a disability benefit from the DWP for an average of 16 hours a week or more.
Best Start Grants – The Best Start Grant is made up of three possible payments. It provides parents or carers who get certain benefits or tax credits with financial support during the key early years of a child’s life.
Best Start Foods – a pre-paid card from pregnancy up to when a child turns three for families on certain benefits to help buy healthy food.
Carer’s Allowance Supplement – an automatic payment made twice a year to people who get Carer’s Allowance through the DWP on certain dates each year.
Funeral Support Payment – money towards the costs of a funeral at a difficult time like this for people on certain benefits who are responsible for paying for a funeral.
Child Disability Payment – extra money to help with the costs of caring for a child with a disability or ill-health condition. It replaces Disability Living Allowance for children in Scotland that was previously delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Adult Disability Payment – extra money to help people who have a long-term illness or a disability that affects their everyday life. It replaces Personal Independence Payment people in Scotland previously delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Winter Heating Payment – A yearly payment to help people on low income benefits who might have extra heating needs during the winter.
Child Winter Heating Assistance – a payment to help families of a child on the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance for Children to heat their homes.
Job Start Payment – funding for 16 to 24 year olds who have been on certain benefits for six months or more to help with the costs of starting a job.
Powers reserved by the UK Parliament:
The UK Government Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for administering most of the social security benefits in Scotland, not including those devolved to the Scottish Government. It includes the benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The DWP is still responsible for, among others:
- Assessing eligibility for benefits: whether individuals meet the criteria for benefits such as those aforementioned.
- Making benefits payments.
- Enforcing benefits conditions: ensuring that individuals still attend appointments or actively look for work.
- Managing appeals and disputes.
Graeme has been an MSP since 2011 and has subsequently witnessed a great deal of expansion from Social Security Scotland.
Most notably, the opening of Social Security Scotland’s Dundee offices located just outside Graeme’s constituency. They help delivery a range of support including the revolutionary Scottish Child Payment and new Adult Disability Payment.
What Graeme can do:
- Provide accurate and up-to-date information about Social Security Scotland. This includes information about the benefits available, the eligibility criteria, the application process or the different procedures to claim benefits.
- Advocate for constituents facing challenges in relation to social security. He can support them by raising their concerns and to communicate with the worker, alongside pushing for changes to be made when mistakes have been made.
- Graeme can provide assistance and guidance to the constituents struggling with their applications, particularly by being in touch with Social Security Scotland on his constituents’ behalf.
What Graeme cannot do:
- Intervene: where the power lies within DWP.
- Provide legal advice: this applies to any matter Graeme can help with. As an MSP, Graeme is not able to provide legal advice, assistance, representation or even opinion.
- Guarantee a preferred outcome: while Graeme can provide help and assistance, the decisions are always made by Social Security Scotland and Graeme does not have a say in them.
- Interfere with any appeals procedure.