Working together to create a truly local social security service
The important principle of our social security system being based on dignity and respect is enshrined in legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament earlier this year.
It’s vital our new public service demonstrates this in all it does. Which is why, from the start, we have built our system with people that have lived experience of the current social security system as well as organisations who support and represent them. That’s crucial because the only way we can design and deliver a system that works for people is by involving them every step of the way. This stands in stark contrast to people’s experiences of the DWP processes, which all our research, and that of others, shows causes stress and anxiety.
This approach is now being used as we take the next exciting step in building our agency, creating a local presence for Social Security Scotland across the country.
Our local delivery staff will be located in communities to provide face to face support for people applying for the social security benefits that we will be delivering. We want to make sure that those entitled to financial support can access it.
Social Security Scotland will work every day to put into practice our founding principles – that every person will be treated with dignity, fairness and respect and helped to understand and receive all the support they are entitled to. We want to ensure there are no barriers to getting entitlements and we have a duty to maximise the uptake of our benefits. Our local service will be essential in this.
To build this service we have recruited local delivery leads. These leads will work to understand demand and how it varies across the country, not only in volume but the ways in which different communities use the current services available to them.
I had the pleasure of meeting with our 19 new local delivery leads on Wednesday. They will work across all 32 local authority areas to engage with councils, community groups, local public services and members of the community to get the information they need that will enable us to create a truly tailored local service. As what will work in one area won’t necessarily be what is right for the next.
These leads will work together to plan the way that we will build our local service and how we can make best use of the 400 people that will be employed across the country. They will look at where we base them to make sure that we have the right people, in the right place and at the right time.
What struck me when I spoke to the staff was their determination to deliver a service that is right for their communities. One which is supportive and listens to what people want from their social security service.
It is just 30 months since the passing of the Scotland Act 2016, which devolved powers over social security to the Scottish Parliament and just over five months since the Social Security Act was passed unanimously by Parliament. Yet in that time we have delivered our first benefit payments to 76,000 carers, and set up our new social security agency. We are now taking another important step in establishing our new public service for Scotland and bringing services direct to people in their own community. It is a clear example of how we are determined to ensure people always come first in our new public service.