News

Maximising incomes and increasing access to benefits

Published: 22 Oct 2021 10:21

Benefit take-up strategy published.

Ensuring social security benefits are accessible to all who are eligible will be vital in helping people on low incomes deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison has said.

Scotland’s new benefit take-up strategy outlines plans to make sure that nobody misses out on financial support due to a lack of awareness or barriers to applying.

Actions from the strategy, which builds on learning from the first in 2019, include:

  • working with partners to improve targeting of information and advice
  • challenging myths and stigma around claiming benefits
  • continuing to remove barriers to accessing social security in Scotland

The Scottish Government will also explore the introduction of automatic payment for certain devolved social security benefits to make it as easy as possible for people to maximise their incomes.

Ms Robison said:

“Social security is a collective investment in building a better and fairer society and part of that is ensuring people are aware of, and can access, the financial support to which they are entitled.

“The pandemic has made us even more aware of the importance of a strong social security safety net – alongside skills, employment and childcare support – and our new benefit take-up strategy sets out how we will ensure we reach those in need.

“We have seen good levels of take up of the Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Payments, which support families on low incomes, with initial estimates ranging between 77% and 84%. As part of our national mission to tackle poverty we are determined that everybody should be able to access payments they are due.

“We will invest £10 million over this Parliament to increase advice services with a focus on providing these in accessible settings and targeting families.

“This investment will support our ambition to maximise incomes, tackle poverty and improve wellbeing, and this will be more vital than ever as we continue our recovery from COVID-19.”

Background

The 2021 Benefit Take Up Strategy builds on learning from the first strategy, published in 2019.

As set out in the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, the work of Social Security Scotland will be central to efforts to bring about a fairer and more inclusive Scotland.

Since the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 was passed, the Scottish Government has delivered 11 benefits – seven of which are brand new and unique to Scotland, and the four others replace UK Government benefits in an improved and enhanced way. When planned benefits are fully rolled out, Social Security Scotland is expected to make payments to 1.8 million children and adults – around one in three people in Scotland.

This will include benefits for families on low incomes, people who need help paying for a funeral, disabled people, carers, young people entering the workplace and to help people heat their homes.