Building a New Scotland: Social security in an independent Scotland

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


Bedroom Tax: Penalises households in the social rented sector who have so-called ‘spare rooms’.

Beneficiaries: A person or entity that is legally designated to receive benefits from something, for example a pension, trust, will or life insurance policy.

Benefit Cap: Frozen between 2016 and 2023, despite inflation, this limits the amount of annual benefits that a household can receive to £14,753 for single adults if they live alone with no children, or £22,020 for couples or single households with children. This compares to a median UK disposable income of £32,300 in 2022.

Benefit Freeze: Where Universal Credit rates froze from 2016 to 2020 as the cost of living increased.

Block Grant Adjustments: Transfers funding to the Scottish Government based on what the UK Government would have spent on the equivalent benefits in Scotland.

Budgeting Loans: A loan which must be repaid through deductions from Universal Credit payments.

Consumer Price Index (CPI): A measure of inflation reflecting changes in the cost of buying a ‘basket’ of products. See also: Retail Price Index.

Gender Pay Gap: The difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across a workforce.

Legacy Benefits: Benefits replaced by Universal Credit including Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Working Tax Credit

Local Housing Allowance: Limits the amount of housing costs paid by Universal Credit in the private rental sector.

Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG): A Minimum Income Guarantee would create financial wellbeing and resilience by providing an assurance that everyone in Scotland would have an income at a level that allows them to live a dignified, healthy and financially secure life.

OECD: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

Passported Benefits: Benefits that some groups of people are entitled to because of their entitlement to other benefits.

Persistent Poverty: Individuals in relative poverty after housing costs for three out of the last four years.

Relative Poverty: Individuals living in households whose equivalised income is below 60% of median income in the same year. This is a measure of whether those in the lowest income households are keeping pace with the growth of incomes in the economy as a whole.

Reserved Benefits: Benefits which are still the responsibility of the UK Government, and where the Scottish Government has no powers.

Sanction: When Universal Credit payments are reduced for a set period due to someone failing to do what they had agreed in their Claimant Commitment without good reason.

Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC): Scotland’s official, independent economic and fiscal forecaster.

Social Security Advocacy Service: The service provides free support to anyone who identifies as disabled, and who wants help to engage with Social Security Scotland from the point of application through to any request for redetermination and appeal. The service is independent of the Scottish Government and is delivered by VoiceAbility, a charity with 40 years’ experience of delivering independent advocacy services.

Two-Child Limit: Households will only receive the child element of Universal Credit or Child Tax Credits for their oldest two children, penalising larger families.

Universal Credit (UC): The main social security benefit for working-age people in the UK.

Work Coaches: Based in DWP Job Centres, Work Coaches help individuals and their families towards financial independence through work and enabling them to access the support they need as they progress.



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