Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018: progress report 2022 tp 2023

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 Scottish Government has invested £456 million to 31 March 2023 in implementation of social security benefits since the passing of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. The investment is delivering a new system founded on our principles of dignity, fairness and respect. Audit Scotland recognises Social Security Scotland as having "a conscious focus on the needs of service users, building on the principles of dignity fairness, and respect".

This report provides an update on implementation for the reporting year 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 focussing on the policy aspects for which the Scottish Government has a particular role and duty to report. The report sits alongside Social Security Scotland's own comprehensive progress report covering operational delivery.

By the end of this reporting year Social Security Scotland were delivering 13 social security benefits – seven of which were new forms of assistance not available elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish Government uprated benefits by 6% in 2022/23 and we took the decision to uprate all benefits by 10.1% for the 2023/24 period. In advance of that general uprating, in November 2022 we extended the eligibility for Scottish Child Payment to under 16s and increased payment rates from £20 to £25 per week per eligible child. This is an increase of 150% since the initial launch of Scottish Child Payment in February 2021 when it was introduced at £10 per week for children under six. Our five family payments are now worth over £10,000 by the time a family's first child turns six, and £9,700 for subsequent children.

Following a phased pilot rollout which began on 21 March 2022, Adult Disability Payment opened for new applications in all areas across Scotland on 29 August 2022. This replaced the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Personal Independence Payment.

The process of transferring people in Scotland from Personal Independence Payment to Adult Disability Payment is ongoing. They will not have to apply for Adult Disability Payment. Our approach to transferring the awards of people from the DWP to Social Security Scotland ensures people continue to receive the right amount at the right time, with no breaks in payment.

We also introduced Winter Heating Payment in February 2023. This provides a £50 (uprated to £55.05 for winter 2023/24) one-off payment to help those in receipt of qualifying benefits with their heating costs. With Winter Heating Payment Social Security Scotland have paid out almost £20 million to around 400,000 households. This compares to an average of 185,000 households receiving support through the DWP's Cold Weather Payments between 2015-16 and 2021-22, with as few as 4,000 people receiving a payment in 2019-20. Unlike the benefit it replaced Winter Heating Payment is not tied to the recorded temperature at weather stations within the eligibility criteria meaning that it provides a guaranteed sum to all eligible households.

The level of financial support we provided in the reporting year was £4.04 billion through payments made by Social Security Scotland and under Agency Agreements with the DWP. This is over £300 million of additional investment compared to the level of funding we have received from the UK Government through the Block Grant Adjustment.

In the coming year we will continue to introduce more social security benefits within our devolved powers. By the end of 2023 we will have introduced Carer Support Payment which will replace Carer's Allowance. This will open for applications in selected local authority areas through a pilot scheme starting in November 2023 ahead of a national roll-out by Autumn 2024. We will introduce Pension Age Disability Payment in Winter 2024/25 to continue our work to provide support to disabled people in Scotland.

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice



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