Delivering for Scotland #60: Social Security Scotland
In September 2018, the SNP Scottish Government launched Scotland’s new social security system – the first new Scottish public service since devolution. This followed the devolution of some welfare powers under the 2016 Scotland Act.
From the outset, the SNP government has been absolutely determined that this be a system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart. What has been established is a social security system that works with the people of Scotland, not against them.
Developed in line with the extensive and ongoing input of people who have lived experience of the UK system, Social Security Scotland has been designed to operate differently from the Department of Work & Pensions in a number of important ways. For one, there will be no contracting with the private sector in the assessment model.
The assessment procedures for disability benefits are also being reformed to end the unnecessary stress caused to applicants. An SNP Government will also stop the revolving door of assessments by introducing long-term awards for those with existing conditions that are unlikely to change.
Social security is the most significant new public service to be created in Scotland since devolution… Of the ten benefits we currently offer, seven are completely new forms of assistance and the others are more generous than the UK benefits they replace.
– Scottish Government Social Security Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville
SSS now delivers 10 benefit payments, three of which have been introduced since March 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment.
The difficult decision did have to be taken to delay the introduction of devolved disability benefits, to provide certainty and security of payment at a time of great anxiety. But applications for Child Disability Payment will be taken across the country from thus autumn following a pilot in summer, with the adult payment being piloted from spring 2022 and available from next summer.
The Scottish Government has been given a ringing endorsement by the people of Scotland. Of 3000 people surveyed who have used the Social Security Scotland services, 90% per cent said they had been treated with fairness. Satisfaction rates with the Tory UK Government’s welfare system have been falling for the past three years.
I’m very proud of what we have achieved during the 2019/20 reporting period and since launching our brand new public service. And I’m pleased we have been able to effectively get money to so many people in Scotland who need it.
There is still a lot more to do as we prepare to start to deliver the more complex disability payments and our service will continue to grow.
– Chief Executive of Social Security Scotland, David Wallace