Social Security Scotland - percentage of vacant and temporary positions: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

You asked for:

1. The percentage of vacant positions at Social Security Scotland, broken down monthly for the last six months

2. A full outline of the type of positions that are vacant (IT and/or administration and/or strategy and/or otherwise)

3. The percentage of employers that are on contracts or in temporary positions. Following clarification, you confirmed you are looking for the percentage of temporary contracts/contractors that are working for Social Security Scotland for just a temporary amount of time and/or temporary positions.


1. & 2. In the absence of a standard definition, the percentage of vacant positions has been calculated for this response, by comparing the number of budgeted vacancies against the actual posts on payroll. The percentage of vacant positions and the business areas these vacancies were in are outlined in the table below.

Month % Vacant positions at
Social Security Scotland
Areas with Vacant Positions
November 2018 6% Governance and Strategy Local
Delivery Operational Delivery
December 2018 11% Corporate Services Governance and
Strategy Local Delivery
January 2019 12% Corporate Services Governance and
Strategy Local Delivery
February 2019 11% Corporate Services Finance Governance
and Strategy Local Delivery
March 2019 5% Corporate Services Finance Governance
and Strategy Local Delivery
April 2019 5% Corporate Services Governance and
Strategy Local Delivery

There is no standard way of measuring vacancy rates therefore, the figures provided in this response may not be comparable with figures provided by other areas of the Scottish Government.

3. For the purposes of this response ’contractors’ has been taken to mean temporary recruitment “agency” or contingency workers, which is consistent with the terms which will be published in our annual report and accounts.
As at 31 April 2019, 15.3% of Social Security Scotland employees are temporary or contingent workers.

A large proportion of our temporary workers (75%) are undertaking operational delivery roles supporting the roll out of Best Start Grant. Due to the unpreceded volume of applications received at the launch of Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, learning lessons from the subsequent launch of Best Start Grant Early Learning payment, and re-profiling of expected demand, staffing operational roles with temporary staff ensured that service to our clients was not jeopardised, and could react to changing demand by staffing up at speed. These arrangements will remain in place to support the delivery of our benefits over the next few months but are being reviewing in line with expected operational demand. Recruitment of permanent employees must be through a fair and open competition so are unable to simply convert existing temporary workers into permanent positions. However, we value their contribution and we have invested time to train and upskill them so we will be actively encouraging applications and will provide support for those who wish to apply for a permanent post.

Almost all of the remaining roles sit within our Corporate Services, Finance and Governance (Communication) teams, with temporary workers being contracted to cover an immediate need. These arrangements are temporary and our managers are working to fill these roles on a permanent basis. Many of these positions have already been advertised with permanent employees expected to start within the next 6 months.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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