Building a New Scotland: Social security in an independent Scotland

Sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for social security in an independent Scotland.


Scotland is already demonstrating that additional powers over social security can be transformative. Many people across Scotland are now benefiting from a Scottish social security system that treats people with dignity, fairness and respect.

However, the UK Government is still responsible for most social security spending in Scotland and retains most social security powers. Without independence or a significant change in the constitutional settlement, this will remain the case. And the UK system, as has been shown, has not proved to be successful at reducing the UK’s poverty levels, which are very high compared to a range of European countries similar to Scotland.[114]

While poverty cannot be solved overnight, so much more could be done to address it. The UK Government has failed to do so, with poverty rates particularly high for families with children. Similarly, the UK faces a cost of living crisis that, in many respects, is much more profound than in other European countries.[115]

This government believes that a different future is possible. Independence offers the prospect of a social security system that transforms lives, ensuring a decent standard of living for all and linking with a stronger, dynamic economy to improve all citizens’ working lives and to form the basis of a happy and healthy retirement. Changes to the current system within the Union can, of course, deliver incremental improvements but, to deliver transformative change, a wholly new approach will be needed.

Scottish Government

December 2023



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