Social Security Scotland: framework document

Sets out the detailed accountability and governance framework for Social Security Scotland, and the context for the Agency's relationship with Scottish Ministers and core Scottish Government Directorates.


3. Social Security Scotland will deliver its strategic objectives and carry out functions, including functions required of it by Ministers in fulfilment of their statutory duties under the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 ("the 2018 Act"), in line with the Scottish Government's Purpose and Values [1] .

4. The Purpose and Values are supported by 11 National Outcomes. The social security system, aligned with other public services, should make a direct and significant contribution to several of these, most notably:

  • We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination;
  • We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally; and,
  • We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.

5. Within the overall framework of the Scottish Government's Purpose and Values, and within the context of the duty on Scottish Ministers to create a Fairer Scotland, Social Security Scotland will operate in accordance with: the Scottish social security principles, as set out in section 1 of the 2018 Act, the requirements of the Scottish Social Security Charter, and the legislative framework for the Scottish social security system established through the 2018 Act. The 2018 Act transposes the eleven social security benefits devolved through the Scotland Act 2016 onto a Scottish legislative platform, allowing Scottish Ministers to shape, and adhere to, a distinctly Scottish social security system, to be administered by the Agency on their behalf.

6. In establishing the legislative framework for the Scottish social security system, the 2018 Act treats the Scottish Ministers and Social Security Scotland as being of the same 'legal identity'. This is in-line with the Outline Business Case for the Agency for social security in Scotland [2] which notes that, "Ministers will play a role in setting out the remit for the Agency and it is expected that this will be an ongoing process where the remit is subject to change in response to evolving priorities". Both the 2018 Act and this Framework Document, therefore, assume that, a) Ministers will set the remit for Social Security Scotland, and b) that the remit may change over time.

7. The 2018 Act places a number of statutory duties on Ministers. For example, Ministers must, "give an individual whatever assistance of a type described in Chapter 2 the individual is entitled to be given under a determination of the individual's entitlement to assistance [3] ". The 2018 Act also makes provision for certain statutory functions which Ministers may carry out in pursuance of their statutory duties. For example, when Ministers require further information in order to satisfy themselves about any matter material to the making of the determination, they "may request that the individual provide them with the information within such period as they specify" [4] .

8. As above, because Ministers and Social Security Scotland share the same legal identity, the Agency may carry out any and all duties and statutory functions placed on Ministers under the 2018 Act. In each case, Ministers have determined which duties and functions the Agency will carry out. This document captures that determination. A full list of the statutory duties and functions which Ministers have agreed will be carried out by Social Security Scotland is, therefore, appended at Annex C. In summary, the main functions that the Agency will carry out, in fulfillment of its statutory duties are:

  • To provide advice and information on benefits under the Scottish social security system and encourage people to take up the benefits that they are entitled to, receive the support that they are due;
  • To support and promote the uptake of benefits amongst key groups;
  • To assess entitlement and pay the social security benefits for which it has responsibility accurately, securely and on time;
  • To process benefit(s) reviews and redeterminations, and submit information relevant to appeals, in respect of the benefits administered by the Agency;
  • To prevent, detect, and take action in respect of benefit fraud, recovering as appropriate;
  • The continuous improvement of policies, processes and systems, demonstrating efficiency and value for money, and putting the user experience first; and
  • Operational policy (implement the policy decisions of Scottish Ministers, developing and deploying necessary adjustments to operational policy; advise Ministers on the operational policy implications of policy decisions under consideration as appropriate).

9. As outlined above, it is expected that the list of statutory duties and functions which Ministers have agreed will be carried out by Social Security Scotland will be amended over time. In particular, it is assumed that further duties and functions will be added in due course, as required by regulations to be made under the 2018 Act.

10. In each instance, when Ministers determine that the Agency will carry out additional duties and functions (or if they determine that the Agency will no longer carry out duties or functions which it is, at that time, responsible for), that determination will be captured in the form of an updated Framework Document, which will be published in the same form and made available in the same way as this initial version.

11. Detailed targets and objectives, which will explain how Social Security Scotland will carry out its functions at an operational level, how its performance will be measured, and how its fulfilment of its statutory requirements will be reported on and accounted for, are provided in the Agency's corporate and annual business plans. These will also take account of the Scottish social security principles and the requirements of the Social Security Charter.


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