Social Security in Scotland: consultation (easy read version)

Easy read version of the consultation on social security, including policy, delivery and operational issues.

Introduction to the consultation

Throughout this document, we will refer to our paper, A New Future for Social Security in Scotland [1] , which we published in March. In that paper, the Scottish Government made a commitment to work with people across Scotland to determine how best to use the new social security powers which are being devolved by the Scotland Act 2016. We believe that there should be opportunities for everyone to participate in the debates and decisions that matter to them, regardless of their circumstances or backgrounds. This consultation document, and the events and engagement sessions that we will hold after its publication represent the next step in facilitating this participation. Holding an inclusive, informed and wide-ranging discussion will be essential to the successful implementation of our new social security powers.

It is important to set the context at the start of the conversation - which means being clear about some of the constraints we face and the limitations to what we can and can't do. This is not about making excuses - it is about being realistic and not making promises that can't be kept. The simple fact of the matter is that the proportion of the Scottish social security budget that will devolve to Scotland amounts to only £2.7 billion or 15% of the total £17.5 billion spent here every year. That said, the Scottish Government still intends to take an ambitious, new and distinctly different path to the one the UK Government has followed. Within the share of the system we will inherit, we will harness 100% of the powers we have to our values and our principles, in order to support our people, promote equality, tackle inequalities and take a step towards building a fairer Scotland.

Although this consultation is largely focussed on our work to develop social security legislation, there is also a great deal of other work going on in parallel. For example, we are currently carrying out Stage 2 of our appraisal of the options for the delivery of a new Scottish social security system. We published our findings at the end of Stage 1 of this appraisal exercise in March [2] and we expect to publish a report on Stage 2 as early in 2017 as possible.

Our report on Stage 2 of our options appraisal will say more about some of the costs which may arise, depending on the choices we make about changes to the devolved benefits in the years to come. The current spending environment has limited scope to accommodate this without reprioritising money which is currently being spent elsewhere - so there is a need for open, honest discussion about what can be realistically achieved and by when. We don't just want you to join this discussion - wherever possible, we would like you to lead it. That is why we are planning an extensive programme of post-publication consultation events, at locations around Scotland. The next section, "Responding to this consultation" explains how you can find out further details about these events. We hope as many of you that can attend these events do attend. And for those who cannot, there are different ways in which you can contact us to let us have your thoughts and views.

In the paper which we published in March, we set out our vision and a set of principles which will underpin all that we do to deliver a Scottish social security system. The first of our principles is that social security is an investment in Scotland. This means investment in people and their communities, a shared investment by each of us, in all of us. We hope you will invest some of your time and share your experiences with us as part of this consultation exercise. In doing so, you will help us build a social security system - and make an investment in a better future for Scotland, one that we hope will pay dividends for many years to come.


Email: Edward Orr,

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