Independence: what you need to know

Information about Scotland's future.

Social security

The Scottish Government’s policies for social security in an independent Scotland at a glance: 

  • a human-rights approach to social security which treats people with dignity, fairness and respect
  • support for everyone who needs financial help at any point in their lives
  • key changes to parts of the social security system that are currently controlled by the UK Government, including ending benefit sanctions, removing the two-child limit and young parent penalty
  • delivering financial security for all through a Minimum Income Guarantee

Independence and a Scottish social security system 

The Scottish social security system has been built around a set of principles that puts dignity, fairness and respect at its heart.

Fourteen Scottish social security benefits are in place through Social Security Scotland, seven of which are only available in Scotland. Despite this progress, the UK Government still holds the majority of social security powers including for low income, working age, and pension age benefits.

This Scottish Government believes that under UK Government control, social security has been stigmatised and the value of benefits has been cut back to the point many are unable to afford basic essentials.

With full powers, this Scottish Government believes Scotland would be able to do so much more.

While a full social security system would take time to put in place, the early years of independence offer an opportunity to make immediate improvements.

Reforming social security

Following independence, this Scottish Government would make comprehensive changes to aspects of the social security system that are currently reserved to the UK Government.

This Scottish Government would prioritise the following ten key actions to reform Universal Credit, and improve carer and disability benefits with an aim to increase the financial value of benefits

  • remove the two-child limit and scrapping its ‘rape clause’, to increase family incomes and lift some families out of poverty
  • remove the benefit cap
  • end the bedroom tax
  • replace Universal Credit ‘budgeting loans’ with grants
  • end the current benefit sanctions regime
  • end age discrimination in Universal Credit by removing the young parent penalty
  • ensure more people apply for their full entitlements
  • strengthen and invest more support with the costs of moving into work
  • going further and quicker to improve support for unpaid carers
  • stopping the rollout of and rolling back changes to the delivery of existing health and reserved disability benefits

These initial steps could:

  • reduce some of the pressures the poorest households are facing
  • make it easier for some people to move into or stay in paid work
  • improve the support available to unpaid carers and disabled people

Read more detail in the social security paper.

Minimum Income Guarantee

A range of options would be available to future Scottish Governments in the longer term to deliver a full social security system to create a fairer, more equal Scotland.

The Scottish Government is exploring a Minimum Income Guarantee - a universal payment to all those who need it and a guarantee of financial security through life’s ups and downs.

The guarantee could be delivered through employment support, social security, and the tax system, as well as fair and equal access to services like social care and childcare.

Read more detail in the social security paper.

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