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Scotland's social security principles

Published: 17 Dec 2015 10:00

New powers will be founded on dignity and respect.

Scotland's new social security powers will be founded on a set of principles that will treat people with dignity and respect and will be an important tool in tackling poverty and inequality.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil outlined the five principles which will shape how social security powers are developed and delivered in Scotland, in a speech at a Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) Scotland Bill event today.

Through the Scotland Bill the Scottish Government will gain responsibility for disability and caring benefits, flexibilities around Universal Credit implementation in Scotland, and control over other benefits, including funeral payments and Sure Start Maternity grants and cold weather and winter fuel payments. The Scotland Bill also gives the Scottish Government the power to create new benefits.

The principles are:

• Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland
• Respect for the dignity of individuals is at the heart of everything we do
• Our processes and services will be evidence-based and designed with the people of Scotland
• We will strive for continuous improvement in all our policies, processes and systems, putting the user experience first
• We will demonstrate that our services are efficient and value for money.

The principles reflect feedback the Scottish Government has received from organisations who work across Scotland and with all areas of society including children, carers, disabled people, ethnic minority groups and older people as well as the general public.

The principles also reflect the importance placed on challenging the stigma that unfairly surrounds those that are in receipt of benefits. More details of how the social security powers will be delivered in Scotland will be published in the new year.

Mr Neil said:

"The Scottish Government's overarching vision is that social security is important to all of us and will be able to support each of us when we need it. That is why our five principles will provide people with the assurance that we will tailor our new social security powers to Scotland's needs, respond to change, and, most importantly, will treat people with dignity and respect.

"We recognise the challenge that it presents to deliver social security in this way and that it is in stark contrast to the view of the UK Government, but it remains a priority for Scottish Ministers to do so. However, we will only be able to deliver a fairer Scottish approach to social security if we can agree a fair financial settlement with the UK Government.

"In the meantime, we will continue to engage with users and stakeholders as we develop the detail of our policies and will use these principles to underpin that work. We will also ensure the smooth transition from existing UK benefits to our new Scottish arrangements, so people have confidence they will continue to receive the support they are entitled to. We will also provide people with relevant information so they are aware of how the system will work for them and how long decisions will take."

Notes to editors

More information on social security work and further details on the principles are available at: