Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018: progress report 2021 to 2022

Report published under Sections 20 and 87 of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 to provide an annual update on the delivery of the Scottish social security system.

1. Foreword

The delivery of devolved Scottish social security benefits is the largest programme of change the Scottish Government has undertaken since devolution commenced in 1999. We have made remarkable progress since the Social Security Act was unanimously passed four years ago. In that time we have created a new public service for Scotland, building a social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect.

This document provides a progress report on the implementation of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2022, and focusses on the policy aspects where the Scottish Government has a particular role and duty to report. The report is designed to complement Social Security Scotland's own comprehensive progress report, which focusses on operational aspects.

By the end of this reporting year, we were delivering 12 benefits, seven of which are only available in Scotland. We introduced Child Disability Payment, the first of our more complex disability benefits, and launched a pilot scheme for Adult Disability Payment ahead of national introduction at the end of August. Using our social security powers is particularly important in the current cost of living crisis. We have taken a range of actions to support people, including increasing eight Scottish benefits by 6% in 2022-23 - almost double the rate that UK Government benefits were uprated. We also doubled the Scottish Child Payment to £20 in April and intend to increase it to £25 per week per child on 14 November 2022. On the same date we will extend it to under 16s, increasing eligibility to around 400,000 children. At that point our five family benefits for low income families will be worth over £10,000 by the time a family's first child turns 6, and £9,700 for subsequent children.

We continue to deliver a system based on dignity, fairness and respect. In Social Security Scotland's latest client survey 89% of respondents rated their experience as 'very good' or 'good', and 94% of client survey respondents said staff treated them with kindness. In response to world events we introduced legislation that ensures people in Scotland from Afghanistan and Ukraine can access devolved social security benefits from the moment they arrive in Scotland.

We also introduced our biggest and most complex benefit to date, Adult Disability Payment which is our replacement for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). In contrast to PIP, our approach has been designed working closely with people with lived experience of disability benefits. We have created a simplified and compassionate system that provides an improved experience for those applying. In addition, we have introduced indefinite awards for severely disabled people whose needs are highly unlikely to change, providing long-term financial security and supporting them to lead their lives more independently and fully.

We published our second Benefit Take-Up Strategy and launched an independent Advocacy Service. Through these initiatives we are tackling the barriers and stigma associated with accessing social security, and ensuring people from all walks of life can access support they are entitled to.

The level of support we provided in this year totalled £3.48 billion, through payments made by Social Security Scotland and under agency agreements with the Department for Work and Pensions. In 2022-23 our benefits will provide support to over one million people in Scotland.

Looking forward, we will continue our work to devolve social security benefits. In February 2023 we will introduce Winter Heating Payment, providing a £50 annual payment to around 400,000 low income households. Then we will begin the roll out of Scottish Carer's Assistance later in 2023.

We will continue our dynamic and pro-active approach to delivering devolved Scottish social security.

Ben Macpherson

Minister for Social Security and Local Government



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