Social Security Scotland is an entirely new public service. This isn't the transfer or transformation of something that already exists – we are building this from scratch and doing so with those who will use the service themselves.
The creation of this new service presents us with a huge opportunity. It enables us to deliver something that is not just a bit better but something that is great in its own right - something that we can all feel proud and protective of and, importantly, protected by.
The starting place to create this new service was the Social Security (Scotland) Act. A significant amount of effort was invested in listening to people and working with them to make sure that we had strong legislation as the foundations for what we do going forward.
These foundations are now in place and we are working to put the principles set out in the Act into practice. This Framework Document helps to articulate the way that Scottish Ministers, the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland intend to do this.
We must ensure that the people who are entitled to this vital support get the right amount of money paid into their bank account at the right time. To do this we need to make sure that we manage the transfer of powers in a safe and steady way and that we have the appropriate governance, accountability and structures in place to do just that.
Social Security Scotland is an Executive Agency, which means that the Agency is accountable to Ministers, and Ministers are accountable to Parliament. I fully expect that Parliament will be rigorous in their scrutiny and it is right that they should do so.
Our clear accountability framework will also help the 1.4 million people in Scotland who will, in due course, be receiving support from Social Security Scotland, to understand who is responsible for ensuring that their payments arrive on time and at the right amount. These people will be the final arbiters on whether we are doing things right or getting them wrong, and if there are areas where we can improve, then I want to hear about them.
With that in mind, this document makes clear that we will continue to operate in the same open, transparent and consultative manner that has been the hallmark of our work to date. We will also build on our existing working relationships with a wide range of organisations, to ensure that we are delivering the best service to people accessing support.
Alongside delivery of the right payment at the right time, there must be an improved experience for people from their first payments. We need to ensure have the right resource in place and create a culture from day one that has dignity, fairness and respect at its core. This Framework sets out the steps we are taking to achieve this.
Key to that culture will be continuous improvement. We will deliver a better service from the outset. However, this will not be the limit of our aspirations. We will continue to learn and develop and we have designed this Framework to allow us to do just that.
This is important because, in line with accepted best practice for large-scale programmes, we are delivering our new public service incrementally.
This document reflects this phased approach and acknowledges that Social Security Scotland will take on additional duties and responsibilities in due course, as its services develop and grow until we are delivering all eleven of the benefits to be devolved – and possibly more.
We only have one chance to do things for the first time – and I believe this document demonstrates that we are taking that chance, to deliver something that is not just a bit better but something that is great. I trust that all those who come through our new Agency's doors in the future will agree.