The landmark Social Security Bill was unanimously passed by it Scottish Parliament. It marks a new milestone in the development of a Scottish social security system with dignity and respect at its heart.
Here’s what you need to know.
The new system will have dignity and respect at its heart
The Social Security Bill enshrines the principles of dignity and respect in law, with social security recognised as a basic human right. To ensure that all future regulations or changes comply with human rights, an independent Social Security Commission is being set up.
Social security is a public service so there will be no private sector involvement in disability benefit assessments. We’ll also end the indignity of assessment and review for people who are terminally ill and we will introduce more lifetime awards.
And we will not allow the value of benefits to be eroded, as has happened by the UK government’s benefit freeze, so have committed to annual increases in line with inflation.
Recruitment is already underway for Scotland’s new social security agency
Devolved benefits will be delivered by Social Security Scotland. When it is fully up and running, the new agency will employ 1,900 people across Scotland, with major centres in Dundee and Glasgow.
We will take a different approach from the UK government and the agency will have staff in local communities providing face-to-face advice and support.
We are already using new powers to make a difference
We have already used our new, limited, powers over Universal Credit to increase flexibility around payments. Claimants in Scotland can now request that payments are made twice monthly or that they are made direct to their landlord.
From summer this year we will deliver an increase in Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance, with payments backdated to April.
Next year we will deliver a new Best Start Grant to parents of newborn children. This will pay a one-off £600 grant for a families first child and grants of £300 for further children. Two further payments of £250 will also be made at key stages in a child’s life.
A new Young Carer Grant will also be delivered from summer 2019, with a £300 annual payment for young people with significant caring responsibility who do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance.
What’s being devolved?
11 benefits are being devolved, with payments totalling £3.3 billion every year to 1.4 million people:
- Disability Living Allowance / Personal Independence Payments;
- Carer’s Allowance;
- Attendance Allowance;
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit;
- Severe Disablement Allowance;
- Benefits in the Regulated Social Fund (Winter Fuel Allowance, Cold Weather Payments, Sure Start Maternity Grants and Funeral Payments); and
- Discretionary Housing Payments.
This represents the biggest transfer of powers since the beginning of devolution. We will ensure that there is a safe and secure transition to the delivery of these benefits in Scotland.