Meeting the social security challenge
Work to do but plans in place to deliver benefits system.
Audit Scotland has concluded the Scottish Government has ‘done well’ to deliver the first phase of Scotland’s new social security service at a fast pace.
In their report examining the delivery of devolved social security powers, Audit Scotland recognises the right things are being done in the face of significant complexities.
Their report says that delivery is happening as quickly as possible to provide benefits safely and securely and highlights what needs to be done to support the step change in complexity ready for the next phase of benefits roll-out.
Audit Scotland adds the Scottish Government has undertaken important groundwork to support the delivery of future benefits. Work continues to address the challenges ahead, including:
- the putting in place of long-term delivery plans - with significant progress achieved to support the launch of the remaining benefits
- near completion of programme finance, planning and governance reviews
- advanced stage development of detailed finance, resource and procurement plans
Programme costs are closely managed and implementation and operational budget estimates were made public in the Financial Memorandum to the Social Security Bill. These are refined continually as key delivery plans are updated.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“Our aim from the start has been to get social security right for Scotland - in a way that treats people with dignity and respect and protects people and payments.
“In just a year and in the face of considerable complexity, this report recognises we have done well to launch a new benefits service for Scotland. It also highlights the challenge we face as we scale up to deliver the next round of payments.
“I have always been clear, just as my predecessors were, that we don’t underestimate the challenges and complexities ahead, but we have also always recognised the opportunity we have to change social security for the better for Scotland.
“We have delivered everything we promised. We have established a new public service with Social Security Scotland up and running with 400 staff working to deliver payments and using the infrastructure which is the foundation for our delivery of future benefits. We also have a Social Security Charter and Commission.
“By the end of this year we will have delivered three of the 11 devolved benefits and four brand new payments to Scottish people most in need - from families with young children, carers helping in our communities and those mourning their bereaved.
“I value Audit Scotland’s views and am pleased we are already taking action that responds to their recommendations. While we recognise there is much more to do - our track record shows we can meet the challenge ahead.”
- The commitments promised for the past year have all been delivered including: establishing Scottish Security Scotland; publishing the Social Security Charter; and creating the Scottish Commission on Social Security
- The Carer’s Allowance Supplement was launched in September. It has so far helped with £35 million for around 77,500 carers in our communities. This in addition to the £157 million in Carers Allowance payments we have made to date
- More than 9,700 low income families have been supported through pregnancy and early childhood with the new Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby payment introduced in December, with a total of £3.5 million provided to date
- Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment opened for application on Monday 29 April with first payments to be made next week
- Best Start Grant School Payment opens for applications in June
- Funeral Expense Assistance, Best Start Foods and the Young Carer Grant will be launched by the end of this year - on time and as promised
- The Scottish Government has created four brand new benefits: Young Carer Grant, Job Grant, Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment, Best Start Grant School Age payment
- The timetable for the launch of the remaining benefits begins next year