Benefit take up

A key principle enshrined in the Social Security Act is that social security is an investment in the people of Scotland. Scottish benefits will support over half a million people and we want all who are eligible to take-up the financial support available to them.

Throughout this parliamentary term, we are delivering a programme of activity intended to raise awareness of Scottish benefits, and to ensure that people are receiving what they're entitled to.

We are working with local authorities, NHS boards, third sector organisations and a range of advice and support services to:

  • better understand the barriers preventing people from claiming benefits
  • ensure we take every reasonable step to encourage people to receive their full entitlement

Benefit take-up strategy

We published the first Benefit Take-up Strategy (October 2019) under the provision of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. The strategy sets out Scottish Ministers’ work supporting benefit take-up to date. It also introduces a series of new activities and initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of and access to Scottish benefits and supporting those who are eligible to apply. These include:

  • a new £500,000 Scottish Benefit Take-up Fund to be launched in November 2019, and available for 2020, to assist organisations who are preparing their services and staff to support people who will be applying for Scottish benefits
  • a new £100,000 Income Maximisation Fund available for 2020 to assist organisations who support people to increase their household incomes, with an emphasis on ensuring people are aware of the financial support available to them
  • establishing a Take-up Stakeholder Reference Group to provide advice and support in the implementation of this strategy, as well as feeding into the development of the next strategy
  • developing a Take-up Stakeholder Toolkit to help existing services to support their clients with Scottish benefits, and – in particular – with issues related to non-take- up
  • two roundtable events on access to social security to be held in 2020 which will be co-designed with important organisations to explore solutions to issues such as stigma, barriers to access, and the human rights-based approach

Benefit Take-up and Income Maximisation Funds

The Benefit Take-up and Income Maximisation Funds opened to applications on 27 November 2019. These funds recognise the important role that voluntary organisations play in supporting people living in Scotland to take-up their benefit entitlement. 

Both funds will be open to applications from organisations (including registered charities) which:

  • are established for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes and
  • provide free and impartial advice to people living in Scotland who are applying for, or seeking to apply for, Scottish social security benefits and
  • do not gain any direct economic advantage from advice provided, for example through provision of further chargeable services 

Application support is available to smaller organisations (with an annual turnover below £200,000). This is provided on our behalf by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Application form and guidance for the Benefit Take-up and Income Maximisation Funds.

The deadline for applications to both funds is 31 January 2020.

Benefit take up campaign resources

We have produced the following resources during previous benefit-take up campaigns:

Policy position papers

We have published a series of social security policy papers setting out our position on the development of the devolved benefits in Scotland.