First new social security benefits for Scotland announced

Angela Constance
Angela Constance

Details of the first social security benefits to be delivered by the Scottish Government following the introduction of new devolved powers have been outlined to the Scottish Parliament.

Social security secretary Angela Constance announced yesterday that the increased Carer’s Allowance, the Best Start Grant and the Funeral Expense Assistance will be introduced by the Scottish Government, subject to the scrutiny and agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

The increase in Carer’s Allowance, which will be delivered from summer 2018, will increase to the same level as Jobseekers’ Allowance and represents an investment of more than £30 million a year.

To be introduced by summer 2019, the new Funeral Expense Assistance will see applications processed within 10 days, making it easier for people to understand if they are eligible for assistance.

The Best Start Grant will replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant and be delivered by summer 2019. It involves a one-off grant of £600 for the first child in low-income families – an increase of £100 on the current rate – and a reintroduction £300 for subsequent children and two payments of £250 each during a child’s early years.

Ms Constance said: “The delivery of these first benefits is the next milestone in building Scotland’s new social security system – the largest, most complex programme of change in the history of devolution.

“The benefits we will deliver may be different in nature but there is one common thread which binds them – an investment in the people of Scotland.

“Our approach will always treat people with fairness, dignity and respect, and there is no better way to show this than providing the support that they need and when they need it. These steps are key to helping us create a fairer country for all.

“Our plans will be laid out to the Parliament when we publish our Bill next month and we look forward to working with members to deliver this significant legislation.”

Under the Scotland Bill, Holyrood is to be given control over 11 benefits and work is currently under way to set up a Scottish Social Security Agency.

It will oversee the delivery of benefits including:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Carer’s Allowances
  • Discretionary Housing Payments
  • Winter Fuel Payments
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