Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Delivery of social security benefits praised but ‘substantial risks remain’

The Parliament in Holyrood (Jane Barlow/PA)
The Parliament in Holyrood (Jane Barlow/PA)

The delivery of social security benefits in Scotland has been praised in a new report – but “substantial” risks remain.

The report, published by Audit Scotland on Thursday, notes that “new and complex” benefits have been launched by the Scottish Government despite challenges presented by the pandemic, and acknowledges that existing programmes have continued successfully.

But the Auditor General for Scotland has warned that a “huge amount” of work remains.

New benefits introduced in Scotland as of late include the Scottish Child Payment, Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment.

The Scottish Government has committed more than £3.9 billion for benefit expenditure in 2022-23, which is set to provide support to more than one million people.

Audit Scotland says that while people have voiced positivity about their experience of Social Security Scotland, the scale of activity undertaken by the department will increase over the next few years – with the direct administration of devolved benefits jumping from around 20% to more than 70% by 2025.

The number of benefits cases administered by Social Security Scotland is expected to rise – an example being the Adult Disability Payment, which is projected to increase from 20,000 in 2022 to 475,000 by 2026/27.

The department also requires a doubling of its current workforce within the next year in order to deal with growing administration needs.

However, the report suggests the Scottish Government is “well placed” for the next stages of implementation, calling the delivery to-date a “significant achievement”.

But on the issue of devolved benefits, it adds: “There is a lot still to be delivered and progress has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It will be some time before the devolved benefits are fully administered within Scotland. Timescales are challenging and substantial risks remain, including accessing data, putting in place longer‑term digital solutions and getting operational staffing in place.”

Social security minister Ben Macpherson said: “I am pleased that this Audit Scotland report recognises the significant progress we have made in building a new public service from scratch since 2018 and delivering 12 benefits – seven of which are completely new forms of financial support that are not available anywhere else in the UK.

He added: “I am proud that we have built our social security system with the people who will use it, and appreciate that the report acknowledges our focus has delivered a service built on our principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

“The report also notes the positive feedback people have shared about their experiences of engaging with Social Security Scotland.

“We have been ambitious in our delivery timeline – including introducing new benefits while dealing with the pandemic – and we are ensuring that we transfer tens of thousands of cases safely and securely from the DWP to Social Security Scotland.

“As well as delivering benefits now and in the period ahead, we are responsibly and ambitiously developing a new social security system that will serve Scotland for many years to come, putting people at the heart of everything we do.”

Social security spokesperson for the Scottish Lib Dems, Caron Lindsay, said: “It’s now almost eight years since the Smith Commission recommended the devolution of welfare powers to Scotland and it will still not be complete until 2025.

“These powers represent a major opportunity for Scotland to do things differently, but because of the time taken by the Scottish Government, disability benefits are rising at a lower rate and many powers remain in the hands of the DWP.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from the Press and Journal Politics team

More from the Press and Journal