Social Security Scotland: our charter

Explains how people engaging with Social Security Scotland will be treated with dignity and respect.

About Our Charter

This document can be provided in audio, Braille, easy read, large print or alternative languages by calling 0800 182 2222.


The Scottish Government is creating a new social security system for Scotland. Over the next few years it will take control over a range of benefits from DWP - mostly disability and carer's benefits, together with a smaller number of income related benefits like Best Start Grant and Funeral Expense Assistance.

The people of Scotland were asked how these new social security powers should be used. They said that the UK system is stressful, complicated and often inhumane.

The Scottish Government is determined do things differently. It has set-up Social Security Scotland to deliver benefits in a more positive and supportive way, based on the fact that social security is a human right. This approach is more fully described by the eight principles in Section 1 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 – the law that created the new system:

1. social security is an investment in the people of Scotland

2. social security is itself a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights

3. the delivery of social security is a public service

4. respect for the dignity of individuals is to be at the heart of the Scottish social security system

5. the Scottish social security system is to contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland

6. the Scottish social security system is to be designed with the people of Scotland on the basis of evidence

7. opportunities are to be sought to continuously improve the Scottish social security system in ways which—

(i) put the needs of those who require assistance first, and

(ii) advance equality and non-discrimination,

8. the Scottish social security system is to be efficient and deliver value for money.

What is Our Charter?

It takes these principles and explains what they will mean in practice and what you are entitled to expect from the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland.

Who created Our Charter?

  • People with lived experience of social security.
  • Organisations that help or represent people who may use the new system.
  • Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland staff.

Who is the 'our' in Our Charter?

Every person in Scotland. Social security is a human right - an investment in ourselves and each other. It is a public service that any of us could need at any time. So Our Charter belongs to all of us.

Who makes sure that Our Charter is being delivered?

The Scottish Government must explain to the Scottish Parliament what it has done to make sure the commitments in Our Charter are being delivered. The Scottish Commission on Social Security (an independent group of experts) will also report to the Scottish Parliament on how it thinks the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland are doing against Our Charter. The Scottish Parliament will use this information to decide if the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland are doing well or if they should do more.

Each of us also has a personal responsibility in making sure Our Charter is delivered in practice:

  • We all need to know what our rights are and what is expected of us.
  • We need to speak up if these commitments are not being delivered.

What is the difference between the Scottish Government, Social Security Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Commission on Social Security?

The Scottish Parliament is made up of 129 MSPs elected by the people of Scotland. Its job is to pass laws and to hold the Scottish Government to account.

The Scottish Government is led by the First Minister and is normally formed by the party with the largest number of MSPs. Its job is to develop and implement policies (i.e. to decide what should be done) in the areas it is responsible for (e.g. health, education and some social security benefits).

Social Security Scotland is an agency created by the Scottish Government to deliver benefits in a way that is consistent with the approach outlined in Our Charter. It cannot develop social security policy (e.g. decide eligibility rules or payment levels) but is responsible for ensuring that Scottish Government policy is delivered in practice.

The Scottish Commission on Social Security is an independent group of experts responsible for checking new social security policy and legislation and advising the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament if it thinks improvements could be made. It will also report to Parliament on how it thinks the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland are doing against the commitments in Our Charter.

All four organisations have a crucial role to play in Scotland's social security system. The Scottish Government is ultimately responsible for policy and the performance of the system. Social Security Scotland is responsible for delivering that policy in practice. The Scottish Parliament is responsible for holding the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland to account. The Scottish Commission on Social Security will provide independent scrutiny, challenge and advice.

Who can you tell if you do not think Our Charter is being met?

For feedback, suggestions and complaints, please speak to a member of Social Security Scotland staff, visit or call freephone 0800 182 2222.

Staff will try to help you right away and to ensure we do better next time. We will listen, learn and improve.

If you are still unhappy please contact independent Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

Visit or call freephone 0800 377 7330.

You can also complain about matters relating to policy decisions (eg. levels of payment or eligibility rules) direct to Scottish Ministers. Please contact


Email: Siobhan Toner

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