Social security progress
The creation of a completely new social security service for Scotland is a major undertaking. It is the most significant transfer of powers since devolution and the programme that we have in place to deliver this is large and complex.
We have our own governance structure and controls to make sure that we are on track to deliver against our plans and I was pleased to see this progress being recognised by the Auditor General in the Audit Scotland Managing the Implementation of the Scotland Acts report, which was published this week.
The good early progress noted by Audit Scotland is continuing. In the past week, we’ve made public the name of our new agency – Social Security Scotland, we’ve started recruitment for the staff required to deliver the first benefit payments later this year and we’ve launched the consultation on our Best Start Grant regulations.
As we get closer to delivery, there will be further detail added to our plans, including further detail on costs estimates. This is in line with Audit Scotland’s own advice to deliver major programmes in a planned incremental way and as you do, you can be clearer on costs for each step.
Although it is good to know that we are on track, it is important to remember that this is a transfer of powers. As recognised by Audit Scotland we need the same level of detail that we are working to from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In order to safely and securely transfer the delivery of the 11 benefits being devolved, we need to be sure that the DWP will match our pace.
We will ensure the detail in our plans continues to be transparent and that we are keeping the relevant Scottish Parliamentary Committees up to date on our progress. This will include updates on where we are with securing the detail that is required from the DWP.
I am also committed to keeping all of our stakeholders and of course, the general public, informed about our progress. The creation of this new public service for Scotland is something we are doing in as open, transparent and collaborative a way as possible.
This whole programme is built with collaboration at its core. We are working closely with a wide range of organisations that have an interest in shaping devolved social security. We are also directly involving people who have experience of the existing UK social security system to ensure that we design and deliver something with people and not for them.
I want to acknowledge the important role that these organisations and individuals have played in helping us to get to this point and to say thank you for all that you have done so far, and thank you in advance for your continuing support.