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In March 2016, the Scottish Government published its 'vision' for the future of social security in Scotland, including five principles that will govern our decisions on policy and delivery.

Scotland’s new social security powers will be founded on a set of principles that treat people with dignity and respect and will be an important tool in tackling poverty and inequality.

The principles reflect the feedback the Scottish Government received from organisations who work across Scotland and with all areas of society including children, carers, disabled people, ethnic minority groups and older people as well as the general public.

Principle 1: Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland

  • At the heart of our approach is an understanding that social security is an investment in the whole of Scotland, and an important tool for tackling poverty and inequality. Where some people in our society face additional costs in their daily lives - e.g. because of ill-health or disability - then it is right that society as a whole helps to meet those costs.

  • Social security should help provide protection and act as a safety net in times of need. It should also aspire to provide a springboard and maximise the life chances of everyone, acting as an early intervention to give people the best possible chance. It should work with other devolved services to ensure the best outcomes, contributing to the 2020 vision for health and social care.

    Principle 2: Respect for the dignity of individuals is at the heart of everything we do

  • At every step of our engagement with individuals, we will treat people with dignity and respect.

  • Treating people with dignity and respect means using language that is carefully considered and does not stigmatise.

  • Social security should be regarded by everyone in society as an integral component of a fair and prosperous country.

    Principle 3: Our processes and services will be evidence based and designed with the people of Scotland

  • The starting point for the design of our policies and processes is that they are based on the best evidence, and that the individuals who are affected by them should have their say and are listened to. By combining the best evidence available with the views of applicants and professionals who provide support in this area, we will be able to design more effective policies and services, and those services will be better equipped to meet the needs of those who need them.

    Principle 4: We will strive for continuous improvement in all our policies, processes and systems, putting the user experience first

  • In the first instance, our priority will be to ensure a smooth transition from the existing UK benefits to our new Scottish arrangements, so that people have confidence that they will continue to receive the support to which they are entitled.

  • Our policies, processes and systems should evolve in response to how Scotland and its people change over time. We will ensure that they remain fit for purpose with a transparent approach to monitoring and review, built around listening to applicants and recipients.

    Principle 5: We will demonstrate that our services are efficient and value for money

  • Taxpayers are entitled to expect that the investment we all make in social security should be well managed, cost effective and streamlined. We will look to align what we do with other services, where appropriate.

  • We know from our consultation that the system can be complex for individuals. We will look to reduce the bureaucracy involved in claiming benefits and ensure that, at all stages, people are provided with the relevant information on how the system will work for them.

  • We will continue to work closely with other Scottish public services, learning from good practice and innovation with a view to working smarter to help deliver better objectives at a time of falling budgets.