Public Procurement and Property

Supporting the introduction of Social Security Benefits in Scotland – Major Programmes Implementation Procurement Team (MPIP)

July 2, 2024 by No Comments | Category More Powers Implementation Procurement, Scottish Procurement, social security scotland

We’re pleased to welcome a blog from Denis McFadden, Deputy Director, Procurement Services Division to reflect on the procurement role MPIP have played in supporting and enabling the delivery of new Social Security benefits in Scotland.


MPIP was formed in 2016 as a result of the Smith Commission and the resultant Scotland Act that identified a number of key areas to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. A significant element of this revolved around supporting the procurement activity required to aid the establishment of Social Security Scotland.

MPIP have worked collaboratively with the Social Security programme since the summer of 2016, providing a team of procurement professionals. Over this period, MPIP has delivered almost two thousand contracts, securing over £40 million in savings and embedding Community Benefits and Fair Work. The latter has delivered workplace benefits such as over 60 Modern Apprentices and all current suppliers now commit to paying the real Living Wage (RLW) to directly engaged employees.

Many of the procurements were digital in nature requiring an innovative approach which successfully secured a platform that drives the production, creation and operation of the benefits devolved to the Scottish Parliament. MPIP has played a significant role ensuring that the contracts were fit for purpose and capable of delivering the required outcomes.

Key features of the Social Security benefit delivery

Social Security benefits in Scotland will ultimately support two million adults and children, and is currently delivering 14 benefits, 7 of which are only available in Scotland.

In just under eight years, a period which included the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the Scottish Government has established a devolved social security system from scratch.

Social Security has listened to those with experience of the system, and shaped the new system with the people who use it – including removing private-sector medical assessments and replaced these with in-house, client-centred consultations only where needed. From being an integral part of the UK system, consultations now only happen in around 5% of Adult Disability Payment applications. Around 70% of disability applications are made digitally, and almost 90% for low-income benefits.

Social Security Scotland’s Client Survey shows how their approach is making a difference to people’s experience of the benefits system, with nearly nine-in-ten respondents indicating they had been treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.

Social Security Scotland expect to pay out over £5 billion in benefits to people in Scotland in 2023/24, reaching over 1.2 million people this year.

How has MPIP helped achieve this?

A number of factors played a part, for example:-

Agile Adoption – MPIP staff embraced Agile delivery on key digital procurements  and attended a number of training events to develop skills. As a result, we became familiar with concepts such as, Discovery, Scrums, Stand-ups, Kanban, Story Points and Minimum Viable Product. MPIP adapted the procurement documentation to meet the demands of Agile delivery.

Contract Prioritisation – Strategic analysis and developing a forward plan with the Programme enabled MPIP to allocate resources and skills on the key strategic contracts that would facilitate the introduction of the sophisticated digital platforms to enable the new benefits to be launched.

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) – The volume, intensity and pace of the support required resulted in the creation of a DPS to support specialist digital procurements and projects. The DPS provided agility, speed, compliance, market access and have been pivotal to the successful launch of all benefits to date.

Terms and Conditions (Ts&Cs) – MPIP were at the vanguard of developing and using new Ts&Cs to support Agile digital delivery. This included greater commercial emphasis on the use of Statements of Work to robustly contract manage the delivery of Agile phases and deliver Value for Money (VFM).

Collaboration – Over the past eight years, MPIP have worked closely with Social Security colleagues. This included joint team working with a one team approach to procurement and contract management but also crucially MPIP were integrated as an equal member within Social Security governance and boards structure.

Applying Lessons Learned to support Agile Delivery

Many lessons have been learned and new approaches implemented. This has been particularly noticeable in the approach to commercial price solutions which now takes account of a greater reliance on remote delivery, cloud solutions and changing working environments. As mentioned above, Ts&Cs have also been improved over-time to support the use of Statements of Work – the preferred agile approach to delivery.

Adapting to COVID-19

MPIP had to pivot and adapt to reflect the impact of COVID-19. This included not just how MPIP provided a procurement service but also to accommodate remote supplier delivery during the crisis. These adaptions have remained as an integral constituent of post COVID-19 contracts.


“I have been notably impressed by the professionalism demonstrated the MPIP Team as well as their collaborative and innovative approach to procurement which has been integral to the success of the programme. I think the team should be very proud of their contribution to supporting and enabling the delivery of new social security benefits in Scotland” – Johanna Gray, Social Security Division: Programme Management and Delivery.

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