Overview: Delivery of Devolved Benefits
What has happened so far?
The Social Security (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent in June 2018. Since then, the Scottish Government has:
- Established Social Security Experience Panels – 2,400 people with lived experience of the social security system who provide advice and guidance on the design and delivery of the new social security benefits.
- Established Social Security Scotland with its Headquarters in Dundee, and an office in Glasgow, and have started recruitment for its local presence across the country.
- Introduced a new Carer's Allowance Supplement, supporting nearly 77,000 carers across Scotland with an additional £442 a year in people's pockets in 2018/19, to be up-rated annually in line with inflation. This means that in 2019/20 annual investment in carers will rise to around £37 million.
- Launched the Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment, which supports low income families at key stages in the life of a child. In the first 3 months, more than 9,700 families have benefitted from these increased payments of £600 for first child, £300 for subsequent children and an additional £300 for multiple births.
- Launched the Social Security Charter – co-produced by those who rely on social security, setting standards for service that will form part of everything the Scottish Government does.
By the end of 2019, the Scottish Government will have also delivered:
- Best Start Grant School Age Payment – a £250 payment that will be made to low income families around the time a child starts school.
- Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment – a £250 payment that will be made to low income families around the time a child starts nursery.
- Funeral Expense Assistance (replacing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Funeral Expenses Payment) - provides eligible low income families with a contribution towards the cost of a funeral, with improvements on the equivalent DWP benefit that increases eligibility by around 40%.
- Young Carer Grant – for young carers aged 16 to 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week, but don't qualify for Carer's Allowance.
On 1 April next year (2020), the Scottish Government will take full responsibility - both payment and policy - for the remaining devolved benefits.
This means that both the UK and Scottish Governments will, for the first time, share clients and those eligible for benefits on the grounds of disability and ill health will get payments from both the DWP and Social Security Scotland. Those payments need to interact with one another, so both agencies' systems need to work together seamlessly, to ensure people get the right money at the right time.
Following transfer of responsibility in April 2020, the Scottish Government will take on new claims for devolved benefits starting with disability benefits. Case transfer of clients from the DWP to Social Security Scotland will start in 2020 after Disability Assistance for Children and Young People is delivered.
The Scottish Government delivery plans are based on three principles:
- Protecting people and their entitlements;
- Acting quickly to reform aspects of the current system which research shows cause most stress; and
- Ensuring that it puts in place a dignified, respectful system, from application to appeal, that works for the people of Scotland.
The roll out of devolved benefits will start with the three forms of disability assistance, then move to carer's assistance and the other devolved benefits.
By the end of 2021, the Scottish Government will be delivering new claims for Disability and Carer's Assistance, and supporting families with their winter fuel bills.
The Scottish Government will transfer more than half a million client cases from the DWP to Social Security Scotland (around 10% of the total population). People have been transferred from one benefit to another before, but not transferred from one government agency to another.
The Scottish Government is clear that this must be done in a way which causes minimal stress, while safeguarding the payments people are currently getting.
Therefore at the point when the case transfer begins:
- Payments will be protected;
- The Scottish Government will not require anyone to make a new claim - as is the case with migration to Universal Credit; and
- No-one will be reassessed - as is the case for the majority moved from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.
With the DWP's co-operation, the Scottish Government expects the majority of people to be transferred by 2023, and all cases fully transferred in 2024.