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Social Security Benefits - Changes By Scottish Government

8th June 2017

Increased Carer's Allowance to be delivered next summer.

The first social security payments to be delivered by the Scottish Government have been outlined to parliament by Social Security Secretary Angela Constance.

The next milestone in building Scotland's new social security system will be the delivery of the first benefits and these will be the increased Carer’s Allowance, the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance.

The new benefits will be subject to the scrutiny and agreement of the Scottish Parliament. Ms Constance said:

"The delivery of these first benefits is the next milestone in building Scotland’s new social security system - the largest, most complex programme of change in the history of devolution.

"The benefits we will deliver may be different in nature but there is one common thread which binds them - an investment in the people of Scotland.

“Our approach will always treat people with fairness, dignity and respect, and there is no better way to show this than providing the support that they need and when they need it. These steps are key to helping us create a fairer country for all.

“Our plans will be laid out to the Parliament when we publish our Bill next month and we look forward to working with members to deliver this significant legislation."

In the statement Ms Constance gave further information on the benefits:

Increased Carer’s Allowance:

delivery from summer 2018

increasing to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance

an investment of more than £30 million a year

Best Start Grant (replacing the Sure Start Maternity Grant)

delivery by summer 2019

a one-off grant of £600 for the first child in low income families – an increase of £100 on the current rate

a re-introduction of £300 for subsequent children and two payments of £250 each during a child’s early years

Funeral Expense Assistance

delivery by summer 2019

processing applications within 10 days – significantly faster than at present

making it easier for people to understand if they are eligible for assistance

Scotland’s new social security agency will put people before profits, with no private companies carrying out benefit assessments.

Social Security Minister, Jeane Freeman, firmly ruled this out in a statement to Parliament - where she also outlined the conclusion of the options appraisal process for the model of the new social security agency.

The new agency will have a central location as well as providing a local presence across Scotland so it is directly responsive to individual needs. A decision on where the main agency will be located will be made in the autumn.

It was also confirmed that the new agency will employ at least 1,500 staff – making it one of largest executive agencies of the Scottish Government.

Ms Freeman said: “One of our fundamental principles is that profit should never be a motive nor play any part in assessing or making decisions on people’s health and eligibility for benefits.

“We are building a system based on dignity and respect – this means an assessment process which isn’t demeaning or deliberately difficult.

“I am very clear that assessments should not be carried out by the private sector and I want to give people in Scotland this assurance as we take forward our new social security agency.

“It also means setting up an agency that has a local presence with a human face where people can go to get one-to-one support if required. This is very different to what exists at the moment.

“The new social security agency will be one of the largest executive agencies of the Scottish Government and will employ at least 1,500 staff by the time all devolved benefits are being delivered.

“Setting the new system up is a hugely complex task but a challenge that we relish and one that we are absolutely determined to get right. It is extremely important that we start how we mean to go on – by listening to people and seeking expert opinion to deliver an agency that respects people’s views and is sensitive and responsive to their different needs and requirements."

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