MSPs have granted final approval to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill which will pave the way for the Scottish Government to make the first social security payments later this year.
A Stage 3 debate at the Scottish Parliament yesterday was followed by a unanimous vote in favour of establishing Scotland’s first social security system.
New agency Social Security Scotland will be responsible for the delivery of 11 devolved benefits to 1.4 million people a year, worth around £3.3 billion.
The benefits which are being devolved from Westminster to Holyrood are:
- Personal Independence Payments
- Carer’s Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Winter Fuel Payments
- Cold Weather Payments
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disability Benefits
- Funeral Expenses Payments (to be replaced by Funeral Expense Assistance)
- Sure Start Maternity Grant (to be replaced by Best Start Grant)
- Discretionary Housing Payments
The design of the Scottish structure was informed by widespread public consultation with those with direct experience of the benefits system.
Social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “This is a historic moment, one that sets up a new public service for Scotland.
“Our system will be different. It will be rights based, with a right to independent advocacy for those who need it; fast-tracked arrangements and no arbitrary timescale for people with terminal illness; the right to have a supporter and the right to challenge decisions without having your money instantly cut.
“Now we turn to the work already underway to enable us to deliver. By the end of the summer the first Scottish payments will be being made with our 13% increase to Carers Allowance, we have our interim headquarters and are recruiting the first staff.
“Many people and organisations have played their part in creating this Bill and we are grateful to them all. It is a milestone piece of legislation, which provides the foundation for a social security service built on dignity, fairness and respect.”
The new Scottish social security agency will be headquartered in Dundee and Glasgow, with 1,500 jobs split across the two sites.
A further 400 people will be employed at smaller sites across the country.
The devolution of the powers is being staggered, with the benefits system due to be fully operational by 2021.