Social security agency: central functions location analysis

Report setting out evidence base for making a decision on where the social security agency’s centrally based functions will be located.

1. Agency location analysis process

The devolution of social security to Scotland is an integral part of the wider constitutional reform agenda of the Scottish Government following the Scotland Act 2016. These new social security powers will be delivered by an agency. The Outline Business Case for the agency for social security in Scotland [5] determined that the agency would have centrally based functions supported by local agency staff embedded in existing services. This report sets out the evidence base for making a decision on where these centrally based functions will be located.

The work to establish the role and location of the new social security agency has been undertaken in 3 broad stages.

Stage 1 examined options for governance for social security and was completed in March 2016. It determined that a new body - an agency - was needed to deliver the devolved benefits. [6]

Stage 2 was set out in the Outline Business Case for Social Security in Scotland that was published on 27 April 2017 [7] . It demonstrated that the best way to achieve the desired outcomes for social security is for the agency to be responsible for a significant part of the delivery system and to do this in a centralised fashion, with the exception of advice and support agency staff dispersed locally (this type of delivery model was referred to as Hybrid X in the Business Case). This means that the agency will take forward most of the delivery functions centrally and hence require substantial new office space.

Stage 3 refers to location analysis, which is ongoing, with the results of Phase 1 and 2 set out in this report.

Figure 1 – Three stages of the decision making process

Figure 1 – Three stages of the decision making process

A decision was taken to narrow the options for the location of the agency in a phased process, building on the multi-criteria methodology and the criteria set used in the Outline Business Case. At each phase of the process additional criteria would help narrow down the short-list from a starting point of all 32 Local Authority areas in Phase 1 to a handful of specific office sites in Phase 3. Figure 2 sets out the process in high level terms.

Figure 2 – Three phases of Stage 3 location analysis

Figure 2 – Three phases of Stage 3 location analysis

It is important to be clear that this analysis does not attempt to provide the answer to the question of where the agency should be located. Instead it is designed to provide the evidence base for a considered shortlist to help Scottish Ministers make a decision in line with their vision for social security in Scotland.


Email: Leila Akhoundova,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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