Social Security in Scotland is designed to be an effective, empathetic and efficient public service – Ben Macpherson MSP – Community News
Social Security

Social Security in Scotland is designed to be an effective, empathetic and efficient public service – Ben Macpherson MSP

The Scottish government will introduce its adult disability allowance next year, replacing the UK’s personal independence payment (Photo: Esme Allen)

It helps to tackle poverty, create more equality and build a more just society for all. In Scotland, we use our limited powers to make payments to those who need it most, making a real difference to individuals and communities.

Social security delivery is our biggest and newest development in public service since devolution. Social Security Scotland has come a long way – and at a rapid pace since its inception in 2018. It now manages 11 benefits, seven of which are completely new forms of financial support and distinctive in the UK.

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Our benefits support a large number of people across the country. We support families with disabled children, for example by helping with heating costs. We help people who need help paying for a funeral and we offer extra financial support to informal carers. We help young people enter the workplace and we support thousands of families with young children.

Over the past year, despite the impact of the pandemic, we have introduced four new benefits, including our Scottish Child Payment which gives eligible families £40 every four weeks. The benefit is intended to directly address child poverty. It has already supported more than 108,000 children under the age of six and will be rolled out to children under the age of 16 by the end of 2022.

In 2020/21, people benefited from £109 million in direct payments through ten of our benefits. And I’ve seen for myself the difference these payments make. It was uplifting to hear of parents using the extra money from the Best Start Grant to pay for things like warm clothes, toys and books – to help kids get the best start in life.

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I recently had the privilege of meeting a group of remarkable young carers in Edinburgh who were able to take advantage of our £300 young carer grant when they turn 16. It is so important that we recognize the contribution of young carers in Scotland and how much of their time and energy they spend looking after others.

From the get-go, we’ve designed Social Security Scotland with input from people experienced in the UK government’s benefits system. We have done this by working with over 2,000 volunteers in our experience panels – people who have experience with the UK system.

We have also set up customer panels with people who have experience with our new social security system and who help us to continuously improve. We do this because we want to make applying for benefits as simple as possible. We’ve heard how the UK system can be complicated and we aspire to do things differently.

Making sure we get money to people who need it is our priority, but we also want to make sure people are treated with dignity, fairness and respect when they contact us. I spoke recently in Parliament about the importance of people getting the benefits to which they are entitled. We speak directly with relevant organizations to proactively share information with people and communities about the assistance they may receive from Social Security Scotland.

Social Security Scotland’s latest customer survey shows that our approach works. Of the 10,500 people who participated, an overwhelming number had a very positive experience with the organization: 92 percent of respondents rated their overall experience as “very good” or “good”; 94 percent who spoke to a customer advisor said they were treated kindly. Eight to seven percent said it was “easy” or “very easy” to find information online or contact us for more information about benefits.

The investment we are making in Scotland’s new social security system goes beyond the financial support we provide. Last month we announced 2,000 additional jobs to help us deliver benefits across Scotland. We invest in the Scottish economy and we create secure, long-term employment for people.

By autumn 2022, Social Security Scotland will directly employ more than 3,500 people across Scotland, boosting our investment in local economies and creating jobs, particularly at our headquarters in Dundee and Glasgow. We estimate these jobs will contribute a further £280 million to the Scottish economy. In addition, our spending on benefits generally has a stimulating effect on the economy.

We work hard to ensure that the people we recruit to deliver our new service reflect our values ​​and the diversity of the population we serve. Over the past year we have increased the representation of ethnic minorities and disabled people in the social security workforce in Scotland.

Our Child Benefit Payment pilot has been successful in three municipalities and will continue nationwide in a few weeks. It will be followed next year by the Adult Disability Benefit, our largest and most complex disability benefit, replacing the Department for Work and Pension personal independence benefit.

In addition, we transfer hundreds of thousands of cases from the DWP to Social Security Scotland. We are ready to take on the challenges of such an important operation and we are committed to making sure it happens smoothly and safely – and that everyone continues to receive the right amount at the right time.

New heating payments will then be introduced and when we have implemented all of our planned benefits we will reach a third of the people of Scotland – from the youngest to the oldest members of our society.

We are building Scotland’s social security system on strong foundations and we are committed to providing an effective, empathetic and efficient public service – a collective investment to be proud of for the benefit of all of Scotland, over the period and to come. decades.

Ben Macpherson is Minister of Social Security and SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith

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