Information

Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018: benefit take-up strategy - October 2021

This take-up strategy is the second to be published under the provision of the Social Security (Scotland) Act, and outlines our work on take-up to date, as well as setting out our next steps


7. Principle 4: Encourage cross-system collaboration

In applying this principle, we will:

  • Collaborate effectively to maximise the impact of resources, share learning and strengthen outcomes.
  • Adopt a whole-system approach to income maximisation by working in collaboration with other public sector and third sector bodies.
  • Bring stakeholder insight to bear on future work to maximise take-up, making full use of the experience and knowledge of our Stakeholder Take-up Reference Group.
  • Work with partners in the public sector and third sector to develop a coherent overarching approach to policies supporting income maximisation.
  • Encourage and facilitate the proliferation of examples of good practice around benefit take-up.

A key part of our strategy to maximise take-up of benefits is to recognise that benefit take-up is part of a bigger picture, which encompasses other welfare support and drivers of social justice and equality, including income maximisation initiatives which provide advice and support to people in financial hardship.

Within the Scottish Government, we will strengthen cross-government working across relevant portfolios – including between social security, social justice, health, education, housing, and employability portfolios – to drive coherent approaches that have a greater impact on people's welfare and finances through aligning policy initiatives and funding.

Working with the wider system, we will seek opportunities to leverage greater value and impact from initiatives by working with partners and stakeholders from across the welfare, health and social justice landscape.

Delivering an holistic package of support is a key element in our national mission to tackle child poverty and will help families to access the support available to them.

In particular in the context of this document, we will work with public sector and third sector partners to develop a coherent overarching approach to policies supporting income maximisation.

Joining up Existing Approaches

Income Maximisation Strategic Working Group

In order to develop a more coherent approach to the range of wider income maximisation work that is already happening across government, an officials Strategic Working Group has been formed. The work of this group is intended to give a clearer sense of a collective direction of travel and support joined-up approaches which will drive greater efficiency and better outcomes.

Low-Income Benefits

We will ensure guidance for Funeral Support Payment continues to be updated and is available externally so that third sector organisations like Citizens Advice Scotland and Quaker Social Action can help their clients apply for Funeral Support Payment to increase and maintain take-up.

Carer benefits

A fundamental challenge to maximising the take-up of carer benefits is identifying carers where they may not have self-identified as such. There are many current or future Scottish Government initiatives are designed to help with carer identification, for example:

  • The Scottish Government's carers national marketing campaign – which ran until 20 December – will help more people recognise when they are in a caring role and access support.
  • We will continue to fund a full time post in Carers Trust Scotland for an Education Officer. They have been working closely with Scottish Government, Education Scotland, the General Teaching Council and Scottish Qualifications Authority to ensure that education staff are aware of young carers and they have the understanding and resources to be able to support them appropriately.
  • The Scottish Government has funded NHS Education for Scotland in collaboration with Scottish Social Services Council and the National Care Organisations to develop an update to the Equal Partners in Care (EPiC) learning resource. This is an e-resource primarily for workforce which will help staff with carer identification and awareness.

Disability Benefits

Our aim is to make the application form simple and self-explanatory so that people find it straightforward to fill in. However clients will also be able to access additional support through telephone or webchat as they fill in the application form. In addition, clients who need further assistance or would prefer face-to-face support to apply will be able to access our new Social Security Scotland Local Delivery service.

We will have staff in co-located sites across the country from rural to urban to islands settings. These staff will be mobile and flexible, so that they can support clients in places most convenient to them – including their own homes, venues in their local community, hospitals, care homes and prisons. Once Social Security Scotland is fully operational there will be at least 400 local delivery staff across Scotland. Social Security Scotland's Local Delivery staff will provide people with one-to-one support and help them understand what devolved benefits they may be entitled to.

To ensure that services are fully accessible and that clients' needs are met, we have developed an Accessibility toolkit. This will provide our Local Delivery teams with a tool which enables them to assess where they could meet clients, against agreed physical accessibility criteria ranging from colour and light levels to access to public transport, in order to make the experience as comfortable as possible and to ensure as many people access the support they are entitled to as possible.

Detailed guidance for each form of disability assistance will be publicly available and regularly updated, and organisations who support disabled people will in turn be able to advise their clients appropriately and help them to make an application for assistance.

Child Poverty Strategy

Our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan[13] sets out that increasing incomes through social security and benefits in kind is one of the key drivers of child poverty reduction. Taken together with action to increase incomes from work and earnings and to reduce household costs, this will help to lift families out of poverty and to provide the financial security families need to thrive.

The Promise

In February 2020 we accepted the conclusions of all the reports produced by the Independent Care Review.[14] The Promise recognised that to become that best place in the world, we need our public services to work for, and with children, young people, and their families.

Scottish Government has a significant set of responsibilities, touching on almost every Ministerial portfolio in government. Details on specific steps by the Scottish Government to fulfil responsibilities in The Plan 21-24 will be further developed and brought forward.

Transitions for 16 year olds

​Every young person who is leaving compulsory education and moving on to further learning, training or employment should receive an offer of post-16 learning.

The Scottish Government made this commitment in Opportunities for All, a national initiative that aims to improve young people's participation in learning or training (and, ultimately, employment) between the ages of 16 and 20 (and beyond).

Cancer Strategy

A wide range of work is underway to consider what changes and improvement can be delivered through the next cancer strategy, whilst ensuring changes or improvements that can be made now are taken forward as quickly as possible.

Young Persons Guarantee

The Young Person's Guarantee was one of the main recommendations of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. In a collective effort to help young people, the Scottish Government has been joined by SSE, Capgemini, NHS Lothian and Standard Life Aberdeen in making the commitment to ensure everyone aged from 16 to 24 has the opportunity of work, education or training.

Facilitate Stakeholder Learning and Collaboration

Mainstreaming Good Practice

We do not underestimate the role of third sector organisations, local authorities, and health boards in driving the take-up of financial assistance. We are committed to encouraging and facilitating the proliferation of examples of good practice around benefit take-up - supporting other public sector and third sector bodies to collaborate effectively to pool resources, share learning, and strengthen outcomes

Themes

Research and engagement has shown a range of examples of good practice across local authorities, health boards, and the third sector, from which we developed the following themes:

  • Promotion and collaboration – including local authority online promotion,

sharing of Social Security Scotland promotional materials and positioning of hard copy promotional material. As well as the co-development of targeted promotional material and information-sharing with organisations/bodies

Examples of this theme include the Orkney Youth Worker Forum who promoted the Young Carer Grant through presentations by Local Delivery and through monthly updates.

  • Advice and Support - including embedded advice services and provision of holistic advice, standalone support, support built into day to day business and the representation of clients.

Examples of this theme include The Deep End Advice Worker project which tested approaches to delivering advice services from two GP practices in Glasgow.

  • Partnership – taking in partnerships with Social Security Scotland and those between other organisations and bodies.

Examples of this theme include The Maximise Project a partnership between CHAI and Children 1st which works in schools to promote benefit take-up and employability services.

  • Referral and Signposting – including referral pathways to both Social Security Scotland and other third-parties, and in-house referral pathways – e.g. from GP to surgery welfare rights advisor.

Examples of this theme include North Lanarkshire Council's Financial Inclusion Team who host the operation of a referral hub with a range of partners from council teams such as housing and Scottish Welfare Fund to third sector and charity.

Stakeholder Engagement

The following outputs were developed in collaboration with the Stakeholder Take-up Reference Group.

  • Publishing a report outlining the themes arising within the submitted evidence, alongside case studies and indicative approaches to implementation.
  • Developing a range of resources for stakeholders to encourage and support adoption of good practice.

In July we circulated these proposals for comment amongst a wide stakeholder group representing each of the 8 protected characteristics as well as known 'hard to reach' groups. This was followed by three stakeholder roundtable events held in August, during which these proposed outputs were discussed.

The policy aims and proposed outputs gained broad support through this process of engagement. However, there were suggestions around ensuring that the web portal is well promoted to ensure stakeholder awareness and establishing a regular stakeholder forum to discuss examples, as well as ensuring that this output is inclusive as possible.

Outputs

All outputs will be designed according to Social Security Scotland's commitment to inclusive communication. We will take forward the following proposed outputs, ensuring that stakeholder comments around inclusivity and promotion are reflected:

  • Publication of a report outlining the themes arrising within the submitted evidence, alongside case studies and indicative approaches to implementation.
  • Developing a range of resources for stakeholders to encourage and support adoption of good practice, including:
    • A Stakeholder web portal drawing information/examples of best practice into one location under a range of thematic filters.
    • A stakeholder take-up forum proactively identifying examples of best practice as well as settings in which they might be replicated.

Promotion

To ensure stakeholders are aware of these resources, we will issue a quarterly newsletter, highlighting new examples of good practices and practical information on the use of the web portal.

Contact

Email: ruari.sutherland@gov.scot

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