I was fortunate to be a member of the Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee during the passage of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill.
Following the debate at the time about where debt recovery best lay, the Bill was amended to allow Scottish Ministers to make regulations that would transfer some or all of the competence and jurisdiction that a sheriff has over debt recovery in the devolved social security system to the Social Security Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.
Now, as Social Security Minister, I am proud to be responsible for taking that part of the now Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 forward, and this consultation lays out the options for consideration.
This Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that devolved social security benefits are delivered in Scotland with dignity, fairness and respect at the heart of the process. That is why we will always consider an individual's financial circumstances before considering debt recovery.
Experience of the UK benefit system suggests the value of overpayments is just over 2% of expenditure each year and so debt recovery of devolved benefits will only impact on a small number of individuals in proportion to the number of payments made. However, if not recovered, where appropriate, this is money lost to the investment in social security or other public services in Scotland.
This consultation is about seeking your views on the options that are available to ensure that debt recovery hearings are conducted in the most appropriate way. I hope you are able to contribute your views on these proposals and I invite you to let us know what you think.
Minister for Social Security and Local Government